Oritani Financial Corp. Announces Dividend and Quarterly Results

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TOWNSHIP OF WASHINGTON, N.J., Oct. 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Oritani Financial Corp. (the “Company” or “Oritani”) (NASDAQ: ORIT), the holding company for Oritani Bank (the “Bank”), reported net income of $13.4 million, or $0.30 per basic and diluted common share, for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  This compares to net income of $12.0 million, or $0.27 per basic and diluted common share, for the corresponding 2017 period. 
The Company also reported that its Board of Directors has declared a $0.25 quarterly cash dividend on the Company’s common stock.  The record date for the dividend will be November 9, 2018 and the payment date will be November 19, 2018. “We had net income of $13.4 million or 30 cents per share for the quarter, which included a $2.0 million reversal of our loan loss provision,” said Kevin J. Lynch, the Company’s Chairman, President and CEO.  “We also completed a substantial portion of our BSA/AML issues.” Mr. Lynch continued: “Deposits increased by $8.9 million and loans net decreased by $38.9 million.  The loan decrease was primarily as a result of principal payments of over $123 million during the quarter. The CRE market has grown beyond highly competitive to a point where transactions are being completed by our competitors at ever thinner spreads as the yield curve have flattened.  We have seen numerous instances of higher loan to value ratios and extended interest only periods, which we choose not to match. We will continue to pursue well structured transactions within our conservative underwriting standards.”Comparison of Operating ResultsNet IncomeNet income increased $1.4 million, or 11.7%, to $13.4 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2018, from $12.0 million for the corresponding 2017 quarter.  The primary causes of the increased net income in 2018 were a reversal of provision for loan losses of $2.0 million and reduced income tax expense, partially offset by increased non-interest expenses.  Our annualized return on average assets was 1.29% for the quarter ended September 30, 2018, and 1.16% for the quarter ended September 30, 2017.Interest IncomeThe components of interest income changed as follows:The Company’s primary strategic business objective remains the organic growth of multifamily and commercial real estate loans.  However, the market to originate such loans has been particularly challenging during the past year.  Competitors, including non-bank competitors, are providing financing to prospective borrowers at rates and terms that are not considered palatable by the Company.  In addition, many borrowers refinanced loans they had with the Company to obtain financing that the borrowers considered more advantageous.  Consequently, the Company has experienced decreasing loan balances throughout calendar 2018.  The Company also realized robust prepayment fee income in conjunction with the decreased balances.  Given the overall increase in the current interest rate environment, the Company has now slightly adjusted its pricing strategies in order to potentially generate increased originations.  However, the Company remains unwilling to lower its underwriting standards or solicit loans with potential excessive interest rate risk. The average balance of the loan portfolio decreased $38.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018 versus the comparable 2017 period.  Loan originations and principal payments totaled $82.0 million and $123.5 million, respectively, for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  For the comparable 2017 period, loan originations and principal payments totaled $147.5 million and $153.0 million, respectively.  There were no loan purchases in either period.  On a linked quarter basis (September 30, 2018 versus June 30, 2018), the average balance of the loan portfolio decreased $30.7 million.The yield on the loan portfolio increased 6 basis points for the quarter ended September 30, 2018 versus the comparable 2017 period.  On a linked quarter basis (September 30, 2018 versus June 30, 2018), the yield on the loan portfolio decreased 7 basis points.  The level of prepayment income impacted these results.  Exclusive of prepayment penalties, the yield on the loan portfolio increased 7 basis points versus the quarter ended September 30, 2017 and was flat versus the June 30, 2018 quarter.  Prepayment penalties totaled $1.1 million, $1.8 million and $1.3 million for the quarters ended September 30, 2018, June 30, 2018 and September 30, 2017, respectively.  The average balance of debt securities available for sale decreased $51.9 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018 versus the comparable 2017 period, while the average balance of debt securities held to maturity increased $97.5 million over the same period.  The Company has been classifying the majority of new purchases as held to maturity.  The available for sale balance was also impacted by sales of $29.5 million that occurred over the 12 months ended September 30, 2018.Interest ExpenseThe components of interest expense changed as follows:Strong deposit growth remains a strategic objective of the Company, however, growth has been particularly difficult to attain in the current environment.  Many competitors have offered desirable deposit “specials” to customers.  In addition, the Company’s municipal deposit accounts have been targeted by competitors.  The Company has been able to maintain the vast majority of their deposits to date, but has needed to increase the interest rates on the accounts in order to preserve them.  This action specifically impacted the cost of checking accounts.  As a result of these circumstances, deposit growth has been muted.  As detailed above, the average balance of deposits increased $26.9 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2018 versus the comparable 2017 period.  On a linked quarter comparison (September 30, 2018 versus June 30, 2018), the average balance of deposits decreased $39.6 million.  The overall cost of deposits increased 22 basis points for the quarter ended September 30, 2018 versus the comparable 2017 period, and 7 basis points on a linked quarter comparison basis.  The increased costs are primarily due to the impact of market pressures. The average balance of borrowings decreased $22.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018 versus the comparable 2017 period, while the cost increased 32 basis points.  The increase in the average balance of deposits and contraction of loan balances allowed the Company to reduce borrowings.  The cost of borrowings has been impacted by the overall increase in interest rates, particularly overnight and short term borrowings. Net Interest Income Before Provision for Loan LossesNet interest income decreased by $1.3 million to $26.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018, from $27.6 million for the three months ended September 30, 2017.  The Company’s net interest income, spread and margin over the period are detailed in the chart below.The Company’s spread and margin have been significantly impacted by prepayment penalties.  Due to this situation, the chart above details results with and without the impact of prepayment penalties.  Net interest income before provision for loan losses, excluding prepayment penalties, is a non-GAAP financial measure since it excludes a component (prepayment penalty income) of net interest income and therefore differs from the most directly comparable measure calculated in accordance with GAAP. The Company believes the presentation of this non-GAAP financial measure is useful because it provides information to assess the underlying performance of the loan portfolio since prepayment penalty income can be expected to change as interest rates change.  While prepayment penalty income is expected to continue, fluctuations in the level of prepayment income are also expected.  The level of prepayment income is generally expected to decrease as external interest rates increase since borrowers would have less incentive to refinance existing loans.  However, the time period when these events could occur may not align, and the specific behavior of borrowers is difficult to predict.  Borrowers can be driven to prepay their loans based on factors other than interest rates.  The level of loan prepayments and prepayment income experienced by the Company has been elevated (versus historical levels) despite a period of generally increasing interest rates.The Company’s spread and margin have been under pressure due to several factors, including:  a flattening treasury yield curve, modifications of loans within the existing loan portfolio; prepayments of higher yielding loans and investments, and increased funding costs. The Company executed a previously disclosed balance sheet restructuring partially to counter a portion of the spread and margin compression resulting from these factors.  While spread and margin have been under pressure for an extended period, the competitive market for deposits increased substantially over the three month period ended September 30, 2018. The Company increased their rates on certain deposit accounts, primarily in response to this situation.  The full ramifications of these increases will impact future periods.The Company’s net interest income and net interest rate spread were both negatively impacted in all periods due to the reversal of accrued interest income on loans delinquent more than 90 days.  The total of such income reversed was $73,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2018 and $78,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2017.Provision for Loan LossesThe Company recorded a reversal of provision for loan losses of $2.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018 and no provision for loan losses for the three months ended September 30, 2017.  A rollforward of the allowance for loan losses for the three months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017 is presented below:Delinquency and non-performing asset information is provided below:The $2.0 million reversal of provision for loan losses was due primarily to loan portfolio contraction and reduced qualitative factors within the allowance calculation as determined as part of our quarterly reassessment.  The qualitative factor adjustment was also partially attributable to portfolio contraction.  Overall, non-performing asset totals and minimal charge-offs continue to illustrate minimal credit issues at the Company.  However, during the quarter, the total of loans 30-59 days past due increased significantly.  This increase is primarily due to one larger loan that has been a slow payer but is well collateralized and does not currently present any valuation concerns.Non-Interest IncomeNon-interest income decreased $150,000 to $821,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2018, from $971,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2017.   The primary change was an $119,000 decrease in value of equity securities held by the Company. Non-Interest ExpenseNon-interest expense increased $1.1 million to $10.6 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018, from $9.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2017.  The primary change was an increase in other expenses, which increased $1.1 million to $2.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018, from $1.2 million for the three months ended September 30, 2017.   As initially disclosed in the Company’s Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended December 31, 2017, the Company entered into an informal agreement with regulators regarding Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering compliance matters.  The Company originally estimated that total costs associated with the remediation of these matters will not exceed approximately $2.0 million.  However, the costs for the three month period ended September 30, 2018 exceeded expectations.  The Company has incurred expenses associated with the remediation of these matters of $1.3 million for the year ended June 30, 2018 and $1.1 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  The Company believes that significant progress has been made regarding the remediation of these matters and that the majority of the necessary costs have been expended and expensed.  The Company currently estimates that total remaining costs associated with the matter will not exceed $1.0 million. Income Tax ExpenseIncome tax expense for the three months ended September 30, 2018 was $5.1 million on pre-tax income of $18.5 million, resulting in an effective tax rate of 27.5%.   Income tax expense for the three months ended September 30, 2017 was $7.1 million on pre-tax income of $19.1 million, resulting in an effective tax rate of 37.2%.   The decrease in effective tax rate in the 2018 period was the result of the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 22, 2017 which lowered the federal corporate income tax rate to 21% beginning in 2018 from a maximum rate of 35% in 2017.  The benefit of the lower federal tax rate in 2018 was partially offset by the impact of New Jersey (“NJ”) tax legislation enacted on July 1, 2018 that imposes a temporary surtax of 2.5% for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019, and 1.5% for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021.  The legislation also requires mandatory unitary combined filing for members of an affiliated group for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019.  The Company reports earnings on a fiscal year basis and the increased income tax implications of the NJ legislation are partially recognized by the Company ratably over the course of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.  The full impact of the legislation will be recognized in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.  The Company’s estimated effective tax rate for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019 is 25.0%.  The Company’s estimated effective tax rate is expected to increase subsequent to the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.  The legislation required a revaluation of our deferred tax assets/liabilities based on the rates at which they are expected to reverse in the future.  The revaluation of the Company’s deferred tax balances resulted in a one-time non-cash charge of $477,000 which was included in income tax expense for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  Comparison of Financial Condition at September 30, 2018 and June 30, 2018