SUMMIT, N.J., Hilltop Community Bancorp, Inc. (the Corporation) (OTC Bulletin Board: HTBC), the holding company for Hilltop Community Bank (the Bank) today reported net income of $139,000 ($.06 per share, basic and diluted) for the fourth quarter of 2006. This was an improvement over the prior year's fourth quarter when net income amounted to $127,000 ($0.07 per share, basic, and $0.06 per share, diluted). Fourth quarter results in 2006 included a charge to earnings of $73,000 resulting from a modified restructuring of the Bank's investment securities portfolio. It is expected that the restructuring will both improve future earnings and lessen the negative impact of changing interest rates.
For the full year ended December 31, 2006, the Corporation earned net income of $481,000, a 107% increase over the level of earnings in 2005. Per share earnings for 2006 were $0.21, basic and diluted, compared to $0.13, basic, and $0.12, diluted for 2005. Net interest income increased 8.8% in 2006 when compared to the previous year and noninterest expense was actually reduced by 2.5% in 2006 when compared to 2005. Per share amounts have been adjusted to retroactively reflect the 5% stock dividend issued in December 2006.
Total assets amounted to $156.8 million at December 31, 2006, an increase of 2.8% over the prior year end. Gross loans increased $14.9 million, or 16.3%, in 2006. There were no nonperforming loans in the Bank at the end of 2006 and the loan loss reserve was 1.25% of gross loans.
In a joint statement, Chairman of the Board Richard D. Wellbrock and President & CEO Mortimer J. O'Shea commented: "We are very pleased to report dramatically improved earnings for 2006. Hilltop was challenged by an interest rate environment which dampened net interest margins for the banking industry generally in 2006. Despite the margin pressure, and the charge to earnings resulting from the partial restructuring of the securities portfolio, the Corporation was able to double net income by converting investment securities to higher yielding loans and by controlling noninterest expenses. We look for further earnings gains in 2007. Our staff and Directors are focused on developing new business in our service area, even though competition is intensifying."
Hilltop Community Bancorp, Inc. is the parent bank holding company for Hilltop Community Bank. Hilltop Community Bank is a New Jersey state-chartered commercial bank which commenced operations in February 2000. The Bank operates as a locally headquartered, community bank engaged in a general commercial banking business. The bank has offices in Summit, Berkeley Heights and Madison, and administrative offices in New Providence. The service area includes surrounding communities in Union, Essex, Morris and Somerset Counties.
The foregoing contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are not historical facts and include expressions about management's confidence and strategies and management's expectations about new and existing programs and products, relationships, opportunities, technology and market conditions. Such forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties. These include, but are not limited to, the direction of movement in interest rates, the possibility of disruption in credit markets, successful implementation and integration of acquisitions, the effects of economic conditions and the impact of legal barriers and structures. Actual results may differ from such forward- looking statements. The Corporation assumes no obligation for updating any such forward-looking statements at any time.