Carolina Financial Corporation Reports Results for Third Quarter of 2018

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CHARLESTON, S.C., Oct. 24, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Carolina Financial Corporation (the “Company”) (NASDAQ: CARO) today announced financial results for the third quarter of 2018. Financial highlights at and for the periods ended September 30, 2018, include:Net income for the third quarter 2018 increased 90.2% to $15.2 million, or $0.66 per diluted share, from $8.0 million, or $0.49 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2017.Operating earnings for the third quarter of 2018, which exclude certain non-operating income and expenses, increased 94.7% to $15.4 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, from $7.9 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2017.Operating earnings for Q3 2018 have been adjusted to eliminate the following significant items:The fair value gain on interest rate swaps of $628,000.The loss on sale of securities of $849,000.Performance ratios for Q3 2018 compared to Q3 2017:Return on average assets was 1.66% compared to 1.43%.Operating return on average assets was 1.68% compared to 1.42%.Return on average tangible equity was 14.68% compared to 13.24%.Operating return on average tangible equity was 14.85% compared to 13.08%.Loans receivable, gross grew $137.9 million, or at an annualized rate of 7.9% since December 31, 2017.Nonperforming assets to total assets were 0.32% at September 30, 2018 compared to 0.20% at December 31, 2017.Total deposits increased $154.7 million since December 31, 2017. Core deposits increased $49.0 million since December 31, 2017.“Despite the impacts of Hurricane Florence on our markets in the third quarter, we continued to see the impact of solid organic growth and prior acquisitions on earnings. Overall, results for the third quarter of 2018 continued to improve with an increase of 90.2% in net income to $15.2 million compared to the third quarter of 2017,” stated Jerry Rexroad, Chief Executive Officer.Hurricane Florence UpdateOn September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, NC. As a result of Florence, our markets’ business activities were significantly impacted along the Eastern and Coastal regions of the Carolinas. The impact of Florence on our third quarter results is difficult to quantify. However, we believe the hurricane adversely impacted our operating earnings in the following areas:Limited mortgage banking activities in Eastern and Coastal markets during most of September 2018.Delayed closings on mortgage loans, in which we provided free extensions to customers, reducing margin.Costs related to relocating employees, repairs of facilities, compensation costs and contributions to relief efforts.Refunds of foreign ATM fees to customers affected by the storm.Delayed closings on commercial loans and limited business activity for most of September in the impacted areas.Increased provision for loan losses for unknown impacts of Florence.The aggregate financial effects of these items was a reduction in income and an increase in expense of approximately $500,000 to $600,000 pretax for the quarter. We are continuing to assess the impact of Florence on the economic prospects of our markets affected by it in future periods.Financial ResultsCarolina Financial CorporationThe Company reported net income for the three months ended September 30, 2018 of $15.2 million, or $0.66 per diluted share, as compared to $8.0 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the three months ended September 30, 2017. The Company reported net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 of $34.2 million or $1.57 per diluted share, as compared to $22.2 million, or $1.47 per diluted share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2017. Included in net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017 were pretax merger-related expenses of $15.2 million and $1.9 million, respectively. Operating earnings for the third quarter of 2018, which excludes certain non-operating income and expenses, increased 94.7% to $15.4 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, from $7.9 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2017. Operating earnings for the nine months ended September 30, 2018, which excludes certain non-operating income and expenses, increased 101.4% to $45.9 million, or $2.10 per diluted share, from $22.8 million, or $1.50 per diluted share, for the same period of 2017.The Company’s net interest margin-tax equivalent increased to 4.15% for the third quarter of 2018 compared to 3.94% for the third quarter of 2017.The Company reported common book value per share of $25.14 and $22.76 as of September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively. Tangible common book value per share was $18.69 and $15.71 as of September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively.At September 30, 2018, the Company’s regulatory capital ratios exceeded the minimum levels currently required. Stockholders’ equity totaled $564.0 million as of September 30, 2018 compared to $475.4 million at December 31, 2017. Tangible equity to tangible assets at September 30, 2018 was 11.7% compared to 9.7% at December 31, 2017.Community BankingCommunity banking segment net income increased 94.8% to $15.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018 compared to $7.8 million for the three months ended September 30, 2017. The community banking segment net income increased 64.4% to $34.2 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 compared to $20.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017. Included in net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017 were pretax merger-related expenses of $15.2 million and $1.9 million, respectively. And, as noted above, community banking net income during the third quarter of 2018 was adversely affected by Hurricane Florence.Community banking segment operating earnings increased 99.4% to $15.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018 compared to $7.7 million for the three months ended September 30, 2017. The community banking segment operating earnings increased 115.3% to $45.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 compared to $21.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017. Provision for loan loss during the three months ended September 30, 2018 was $750,000. There was no provision for loan loss during the three months ended September 30, 2017. Asset quality and historical loss experience continue to remain favorable. The provision for loan loss was primarily driven by organic loan growth and unknown potential storm related impacts.Non-performing assets were 0.32% and 0.20% of total assets at September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively.Loans receivable, gross increased to $2.5 billion at September 30, 2018 compared to $2.3 billion at December 31, 2017. Loans increased $137.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2018, or at an annualized rate of 7.9% over December 31, 2017.Total deposits increased $154.7 million since December 31, 2017. As of September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, core deposits, defined as demand deposits, savings accounts and money market accounts, comprised approximately 64.9% and 66.9% respectively, of total deposits.Wholesale Mortgage BankingNet income for the wholesale mortgage banking segment was $555,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2018 compared to $449,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2017. The increase in the three months ended September 30, 2018 was primarily due to higher mortgage servicing income on higher average servicing balances, partially offset by the impact of Hurricane Florence on origination activity and closings. Net income was $1.7 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 compared to $2.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017. The decrease in the nine months ended September 30, 2018 was primarily due to a decrease in mortgage banking income, early lease termination costs, and loss on sale of other real estate expense incurred in second quarter 2018, and the impact of Hurricane Florence in the third quarter. Additionally, income taxes in 2017 were reduced due to tax benefits related to the vesting of employee stock-based compensation.Net margin was 1.65% for the three months ended September 30, 2018 compared to 1.44% for the three months ended September 30, 2017. Originations for the three months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017 were $190.1 million and $217.0 million, respectively. Originations during September 2018 were affected by storm related interruptions. Net margin was 1.71% for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 compared to 1.65% for the nine months ended September 30, 2017. Originations for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017 were $576.2 million and $611.6 million, respectively.Dividend DeclaredOn October 17, 2018, the Company declared a $0.07 dividend per common share, payable on January 4, 2019, to stockholders of record on December 14, 2018.Conference CallA conference call will be held at 10:00 a.m., Eastern Time on October 25, 2018. The conference call can be accessed by dialing (866) 464-9448 or (213) 660-0874 and requesting the Carolina Financial Corporation earnings call. The conference ID number is 7386054. Listeners should dial in 10 minutes prior to the start of the call. The live webcast and presentation slides will be available on www.haveanicebank.com under Investor Relations, “Investor Presentations.”A replay of the webcast will be available on www.haveanicebank.com under Investor Relations, “Investor Presentations” approximately three hours after the call and can be accessed by dialing (855) 859-2056 or (404) 537-3406 and requesting conference number 7386054.About Carolina Financial CorporationCarolina Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: CARO) is the holding company of CresCom Bank, which also owns and operates Atlanta-based Crescent Mortgage Company. As of September 30, 2018, Carolina Financial Corporation had approximately $3.7 billion in total assets and Crescent Mortgage Company was approved to originate loans in 48 states partnering with community banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers. Addendum to News Release – Use of Certain Non-GAAP Financial Measures and Forward-Looking StatementsThis news release contains financial information determined by methods other than in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). Such statements should be read along with the accompanying tables, which provide a reconciliation of non-GAAP measures to GAAP measures. This news release and the accompanying tables discuss financial measures, including but not limited to, core deposits, tangible book value, operating earnings and net income related to segments of the Company, which are non-GAAP measures. We believe that such non-GAAP measures are useful because they enhance the ability of investors and management to evaluate and compare the Company’s operating results from period to period in a meaningful manner. Non-GAAP measures should not be considered as an alternative to any measure of performance as promulgated under GAAP. Investors should consider the Company’s performance and financial condition as reported under GAAP and all other relevant information when assessing the performance or financial condition of the company. Non-GAAP measures have limitations as analytical tools, and investors should not consider them in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of the Company’s results or financial condition as reported under GAAP.Please refer to the Non-GAAP reconciliation tables later in this release for additional information.Forward-Looking StatementsCertain statements in this news release contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, such as statements relating to future plans and expectations, and are thus prospective. Such forward-looking statements include but are not limited to statements with respect to our plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts, and other statements identified by words such as “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “intends,” “plans,” “targets,” and “projects,” as well as similar expressions. Such statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements are reasonable, any of the assumptions could prove to be inaccurate. Therefore, we can give no assurance that the results contemplated in the forward-looking statements will be realized. The inclusion of this forward-looking information should not be construed as a representation by the Company or any person that the future events, plans, or expectations contemplated by the Company will be achieved.The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in the forward-looking statements: (1) competitive pressures among depository and other financial institutions may increase significantly and have an effect on pricing, spending, third-party relationships and revenues; (2) the strength of the United States economy in general and the strength of the local economies in which we conduct operations may be different than expected resulting in, among other things, a deterioration in the credit quality or a reduced demand for credit, including the resultant effect on the Company’s loan portfolio and allowance for loan losses; (3) the rate of delinquencies and amounts of charge-offs, the level of allowance for loan loss, the rates of loan growth, or adverse changes in asset quality in our loan portfolio, which may result in increased credit risk-related losses and expenses; (4) the risk that the preliminary financial information reported herein and our current preliminary analysis will be different when our review is finalized; (5) changes in the U.S. legal and regulatory framework including, but not limited to, the Dodd-Frank Act and regulations adopted thereunder; (6) adverse conditions in the stock market, the public debt market and other capital markets (including changes in interest rate conditions) could have a negative impact on the Company; (7) the business related to acquisitions may not be integrated successfully or such integration may take longer to accomplish than expected; (8) the expected cost savings and any revenue synergies from acquisitions may not be fully realized within expected timeframes; (9) disruption from acquisitions may make it more difficult to maintain relationships with clients, associates, or suppliers; and (10) the impact of recent and future hurricanes and other natural disasters on our loan portfolio and the economic prospects of our coastal markets. Additional factors that could cause our results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in our reports (such as our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K) filed with the SEC and available at the SEC’s Internet site (http://www.sec.gov). All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements concerning the Company or any person acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements above. We do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made.