Camden National Corporation (NASDAQ:CAC) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

Camden National Corporation (NASDAQ:CAC) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript January 31, 2023

Operator: Good day, and welcome to Camden National Corporation’s Fourth Quarter 2022 Earnings Conference Call. My name is and I will be your operator for today’s call. Please note that this presentation contains forward-looking statements, which involve significant risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to vary materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements are described in the company’s earnings press release, the company’s 2021 annual report on Form 10-K and other filings with the SEC. The company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the forward-looking statements are made.

Any references in today’s presentation to non-GAAP financial measures are intended to provide meaningful insights and are reconciled with GAAP in your press release. Today’s presenters are Greg Dufour, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Mike Archer, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Please note that this event is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Greg Dufour. Please go ahead, sir.

Greg Dufour: Thank you, and welcome everyone to Camden National Corporation’s Fourth Quarter 2022 Earnings Call. For the fourth quarter of 2022, we reported net income of $15.4 million or earnings per diluted share of $1.05, which was 8% better than the third quarter of €˜22. This resulted in total annual earnings for 2022 of $61.4 million, an 11% decrease from our record earnings of $69 million recorded in 2021 and a 9% decrease in diluted earnings per share over the same period. We were pleased with our fourth quarter performance in several areas. Non-interest income, excluding a $903,000 pre-tax security loss was $10.7 million and was on the higher end of our expectations. The security loss record in the fourth quarter is part of a balance sheet restructuring that Mike described during his comments.

Operating expenses of $27 million in the quarter was as we expected, and resulted in a 56.4% non-GAAP efficiency ratio. Finally, our provision for credit losses was $466,000, down from $2.8 million recorded in the third quarter. At our earnings call last quarter, we signaled we could see our allowance from provision levels begin to stabilize should asset quality remain strong and no significant changes in the economic outlook occurring during the fourth quarter. We’re pleased to see this materialize as asset quality remained very strong by all measures to close the year. We ended the year with an allowance to total loans of 0.92%, 92 basis points and our reserve levels covering non-performing assets 7.2 times. We feel that we are well positioned at those levels on our current loan portfolio.

We also continue to see the negative impact of the significant and prolonged inverted yield curve, which contributed to a 2.76% net interest margin for the fourth quarter, down 12 basis points for the prior quarter. You’ll recall at last quarter’s conference call we indicated our expectation for margin was to remain relatively flat to slightly down during the fourth quarter, which did not materialize. Mike will provide a more detailed explanation during his comments. What I’d like to share at this point is where our strategic focus will be for the coming quarters. First, we are focused on net interest income and net interest margin through several strategies. First and foremost, we are focused on pricing on both loans and deposits. As of year end, our deposit beta through the cycle so far was just over 20% and our total funding beta was 21%, while our earning asset beta was just over 18%.

As you’ve seen us do in the past, the primary objective will be on strengthening our existing relationships and developing new ones versus chasing transactions for both loans and deposits. Secondly, we have pursued and will continue to pursue opportunities to logically reposition our balance sheet based on both the current and future interest rate cycle. We’ll analyze opportunities that make long term sense as well as those that fit into our risk profile, such as the restructuring that was done in the fourth quarter. Finally, we recognize that we’re operating in a hyper competitive environment and we see loan deals on prices, which we’re not comfortable with. Accordingly, we anticipate loan growth to be on the lower side of our mid single digits for the year, and we’ll accept that in order to focus on the long term.

Turning to asset quality. It continues to be a major focus of ours. While strong today, we do not take it for granted. Today, we are enjoying the benefits of our strong underwriting but we complement that with our risk management structure to look for potential signs of weakness. Those efforts may include analysis such as migration of FICO scores, all the way to swiftly working with customers at the first sign of distress. Another focus area is our expense structure. While we’re operating within our expected parameters, our previous investments and process automation have helped make many areas more efficient and productive. For example, I previously shared our efforts to streamline our small business and commercial loan processing efforts.

That effort hit its stride in the fourth quarter and we’re already seeing processing efficiency improvements ranging from 30% to 35% efficiency, and our overall efficiency ratio for the total organization is within our target range of 55% to 58%. Finally, as we always have been, we are focused on our capital, and our 2022 earnings of $61.4 million provides us ample resources to grow capital as we reward shareholders, including our 5% dividend increase announce in December. I’ll pause here and let Mike provide his review and comments.

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Mike Archer: Thank you, Greg, and good afternoon, everyone. Earlier today, we reported net income for the year ended 2022 of $61.4 million and diluted EPS of $4.17 and down from last year’s record earnings, we’re certainly pleased with these annual results, particularly in light of the significant change in market dynamics between years. On a non-GAAP pretax pre-provision basis, the company recorded earnings of $81.5 million for the year, down 2% from last year. In addition, adjusting for SBA PPP loan income, earnings totaled $80.3 million, a 7% increase over last year. These core results make us confident in navigating today’s short term challenges while remaining focused on the long term. We continue to focus on generating shareholder returns through strong sustainable core earnings and strategies and deploying capital to organically grow the franchise.

We also continue to prudently return capital to shareholders for a mix of dividends and share repurchases. Our dividend pay ratio for the year ended 2022 was 39%, which included a $0.02 or 5% increase in our quarterly dividend that we announced in the fourth quarter, and we repurchased 225,245 shares of our common stock throughout the year. On a linked quarter basis, we reported net income of $15.4 million and diluted EPS of $1.05 for the fourth quarter, each an increase of 8% over the last quarter. Many of our key financial metrics that we track remain solid for the fourth quarter, including a return on average assets of 1.09%, a return on average tangible equity of 18.2% and an efficiency ratio of 56.4%. On a non-GAAP basis, pre-tax pre-provision earnings for the fourth quarter were $19.8 million, a 4% percent decrease from the third quarter.

Not unlike other banks, we too have felt the impact of the inverted yield curve with short term rates rising quickly throughout 2022. Net interest income for the fourth quarter decreased 2% from the third quarter despite average interest earning assets growing 2% as net interest margin compressed 12 basis points on a linked quarter basis. Our interest earning asset yield grew 27 basis points during the fourth quarter to 3.67% as we continue to see our loan and investment yields increase. Generally, we continue to leverage investment cash flow to fund loan growth and anticipate continuing to do so over the coming quarters. As Greg mentioned in his comments, we anticipate loan growth to moderate in 2023 and the current environment as we manage our net interest margin and protect long term franchise value.

To that end, we have seen our loan pipelines drop considerably from the end of the third quarter. More recently committed residential mortgage and commercial loan pipelines have been hovering around $50 million each and have weighted average rates in these portfolios ranging from 6.4% to 6.7%. In the fourth quarter, we put into portfolio 84% of our residential mortgage production. Through strategies and actions taken our current residential mortgage pipeline designated for sale has grown to 30%. In the fourth quarter, deposit cost grew 39 basis points to 0.84%, representing a deposit beta of 29%. While our deposit cost grew at a faster rate during the fourth quarter than it had in previous quarters, it was not unexpected as the Fed raise rates another 125 basis points during the quarter and deposit competition throughout our markets continues to heat up.

We have considered and continue to look at other alternative borrowing strategies. During the quarter, we entered into a laddered broker CD strategy that stretches over 12 months. Doing so allowed us to lock in approximately $100 million of funding and based on current short term rate forecast should benefit us over coming quarters. Overall for the year ended 2022, our deposit beta was 20.2% and our all in funding beta was 21%, which continued to be within our target. We do anticipate further interest margin compression the first quarter of €˜23 as we are in the peak of normal seasonal outflows combined with expected further rate hikes by the Fed in the first quarter. We have and continue to review strategies to optimize net interest income and net interest margin.

Recently, we’ve executed on the following strategies. In the fourth quarter, we completed an investment restructure whereby we sold approximately $28 million of securities at a loss of $903,000 and repurchased approximately $28 million securities with higher yields. The expected earn back is about one year and expected to provide 1 basis points to 2 basis points of net interest margin lift with a full quarter benefit. Last week, we executed on two interest rate swap strategies, swapping $200 million of fixed rate cash flows on loans for variable rate cash flows tied to Fed funds rate. Based on the current swap curve, these swaps provide additional interest income immediately and is anticipated to provide additional benefit over the year based on the market’s current expectations of Fed funds.

We currently estimated a full quarter net interest margin lift of 4 basis points to 5 basis points should market expectation on Fed funds hold true. For the fourth quarter of 2022, we provisioned $466,000 of expense for expected credit losses, which is a decrease of $2.3 million compared to last quarter. Our credit portfolio remains in pristine conditions supported by non-performing loans of 0.13% of total loans at December 31, 2022 consistent with last quarter minimal net charge off and delinquent loans totaling 6 basis points of total loans at December 31, 2022 compared to 12 basis points last quarter. We continue to actively monitor and assess our loan portfolios for signs of distress based on current and forecasted market conditions. However, we’ve not identified any such trends to date.

At December 31, 2022 our allowance to total loans ratio stood at 0.92%, down 3 basis points from last quarter. We believe this reserve level is appropriate given the strength of our credit and knowing it provides us with 7.2 times coverage over total non-performing loans at December 31, 2022, which is consistent with last quarter. Non-interest income for the fourth quarter of 2022 totaled $9.8 million, including the $903,000 loss on the investment trade discussed earlier. On a linked quarter basis, non-interest income was down 2%. But excluding the investment trade loss, non-interest income would’ve been 7% higher. In the fourth quarter each year, we recognized our annual debit card volume based incentive. This year, that incentive was $806,000 and drove the increase in debit card income between quarters.

Mortgage banking income also increased in the fourth quarter compared to last quarter. The increase was a result of the change in the fair value on our saleable residential loan pipeline between quarters. Otherwise, mortgage banking income would’ve decreased between quarters as residential mortgage production for the fourth quarter was down 28% and our production was down 45% compared to last quarter. Our non-interest income forecast for next quarter is $9 million to $9.5 million. Non-interest expense for the fourth quarter totaled $27 million, slightly down from last quarter. Our non-GAAP efficiency ratio for the quarter was 56.4%, and was also consistent with last quarter. We estimate our first quarter of 2023 expenses will tick up 2% to 3% factoring the impact of the FDIC assessment increase that takes effect for all insured banks and partial quarter impact to normal merit increases.

The company’s regulatory capital ratios continue to be well in excess of regulatory capital requirements as of December 31, 2022, supporting the strength of our core capital position. Tangible book value per share increased to $1.40 or 6% during the fourth quarter to $24.37 at December 31, 2022 and our tangible common equity ratio increased 24 basis points in the quarter to 6.37% at December 31st. This concludes our comments on our fourth quarter results. And now I’ll turn the call back to Greg.

Greg Dufour: Thanks, Mike. Before opening the call up for questions, I’d like to point out a few closing thoughts here. Mike described some strategies we’ve executed, including investment portfolio, restructure and swap strategy. We’re equally, if not more so, focused on organic strategies to improve our positioning in this environment. Some of those have demonstrated in the yields in our loan pipelines that are above 6.5%, which is strong considering we’re routinely competing against pricing in the low 5% range, if not lower. Our loan to deposit ratio of 83% demonstrates our franchise value along with growing core deposit 6% in 2022. Also, as we mentioned, our efficiency ratio is within our normal operating range of 56% and from our risk perspective, we’re also well positioned.

Tangible common equity ratio is 6.37% and is complemented by an ACL to total loan ratio of 92 basis points and 7 times coverage on non-performing assets. With that as a backdrop, we’ll open it up for questions please.

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