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Berkshire Hills Bancorp Slashes Dividend

By Bram Berkowitz – Sep 9, 2020 at 4:41PM

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The bank continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic, with its stock now down roughly 70% year to date.

The $13 billion asset Berkshire Hills Bancorp (BHLB 1.10%) based in Boston has trimmed both its preferred and common dividends by 50%. 

The new quarterly cash dividend will be $0.12 per common share and $0.24 per preferred share, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Our Company has paid a quarterly cash dividend to shareholders for our entire 20-year history as a public company. We raised our dividend in January, before the pandemic, which reflected our long-term plans for growth and profitability," Berkshire's Acting CEO Sean Gray said in a statement.

The words Berkshire Bank over a city's skyline.

Image source: Berkshire Bank

He added:

This reduction of our dividend brings our yield and payout more in line with peers and with our historic ranges and will help to preserve our strong capital foundation to help us continue to support our customers and communities in these challenging times. It also positions us to accelerate shareholder distributions in the form of both dividends and stock buybacks when economic and public health conditions recover in the future.

The news is just the latest in what has been an extremely difficult year for the bank.

In July, Berkshire took a $554 million goodwill impairment, effectively erasing all of the bank's goodwill. Then former CEO Richard Marotta, who had only been in the position for less than two years, left the bank to "pursue new opportunities."

Berkshire's stock is now down about 70% year to date and only trading at about 44% of tangible book value

Bram Berkowitz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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