United Community Banks, Inc. Reports Second Quarter Results

United Community Banks, Inc. (NASDAQ: UCBI) (United) today reported second quarter financial results, with record year-over-year loan and deposit growth. United delivered net income of $25.1 million and pre-tax pre-provision income of $65.6 million and built its allowance for credit losses with a $33.5 million provision for credit losses. Due largely to the continued reserve build anticipating potential future loan losses driven by COVID-19 effects on the economy, diluted earnings per share of $0.32 represented a decrease of $0.23 or 42%, from a year ago. Excluding merger-related and other charges, diluted operating earnings per share were also $0.32, also down 46% from last year. United’s return on assets (ROA) was 0.71% and its return on common equity was 6.2% for the quarter. On an operating basis, United’s ROA was 0.72% and its return on tangible common equity was 8.1%.

Chairman and CEO Lynn Harton stated, “As the nation continues to grapple with the uncertainties of the future economic environment, I am pleased with the financial strength of the company and the performance of our employees, who continue to deliver for our customers. In this new world of physical distancing, the investments we have made in our digital delivery channels are being put to the test and exceeding our expectations. Customer traffic patterns suggest that our customers have significantly increased their use of our digital platform to access our products and services, as well as to open and manage their accounts. Along with our enhanced mobile app, this platform has enabled us to maintain business volume, while keeping our employees and customers physically-distanced and safe while banking. We supported our small business clients by offering loan deferrals, as needed. Additionally, our SBA team, along with other United bankers across our markets, processed nearly 11,000 applications for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling $1.1 billion—providing funding for small businesses throughout our footprint. In addition to addressing the needs of our existing customers, we added approximately 4,000 new loan and deposit customers since the Program began, which has given us an even greater opportunity to serve our markets.”

This quarter saw record growth with total loans increasing by $1.2 billion—mainly from PPP loans—however, non-PPP loans also grew at a 5% annualized rate. Likewise, core transaction deposits were up a record $1.7 billion over first quarter with growth in noninterest bearing deposits of $1.1 billion being the primary driver. United’s cost of deposits decreased 18 bps to 0.38% as a result. Net interest margin decreased 65 bps from the first quarter. Of this decrease, 18 bps was due to lower purchased loan accretion, approximately 6 bps was due to lower-yielding PPP loans, and approximately 9 bps resulted from carrying an increased amount in low-yielding overnight investments due to the record amount of liquidity generated by bank deposit growth in the quarter.

Harton continued, “During the second quarter, we also completed a number of important strategic initiatives that position us well for the future. In June, we raised $200 million—$100 million in preferred stock with a 6.875% annual dividend rate and $100 million in senior notes with a 5.00% annual coupon. Our long-term goal is to continue to remain a top performer in our peer group, with top quartile results in key performance metrics including capital levels. These capital raises were done to provide us with substantial flexibility to be able to both focus on our customers’ current needs, and at the same time, be prepared to emerge from the health crisis in a very strong position. We believe that there will be meaningful strategic growth opportunities at that point.”

Immediately following quarter end, the bank announced the July 1st closing of the previously announced merger with Three Shores Bancorporation, Inc. and its bank subsidiary Seaside National Bank & Trust, which will now be branded Seaside Bank and Trust. Harton noted, “We are pleased to welcome Seaside’s talented team of bankers and believe that our combined banks are better together. Gideon Haymaker is now United’s president for the State of Florida and additionally will lead our expansion of Seaside’s wealth management offering across United’s footprint.”

Mr. Harton concluded, “Giving back to our communities is at the core of who we are as a community bank. In keeping with that long-standing tradition, I am also pleased to announce that we recently formed the United Community Bank Foundation, a tax-exempt private foundation which will expand our charitable endeavors throughout our footprint. In the second quarter, we made a $1 million initial contribution to the foundation, which will allow us to further support our communities that have been critical to our success over the years.”

Second Quarter 2020 Financial Highlights:
• EPS decreased by 42% compared to last year on a GAAP basis and 46% on an operating basis
• Return on assets of 0.71%, or 0.72% excluding merger-related and other charges
• Pre-tax, pre-provision return on assets of 1.86%, or 1.87% excluding merger-related and other charges
• Return on common equity of 6.2%
• Return on tangible common equity of 8.1%, excluding merger-related and other charges
• United adopted the Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL) model for determining the allowance for credit losses last quarter; the continued uncertain economic outlook necessitated a provision for credit losses of $33.5 million
• Record loan production of $2.0 billion, with $1.1 billion in PPP loans and $866 million in traditional (non-PPP) loans
• Loan growth of $1.2 billion, including traditional loan growth at an annualized rate of 5% for the quarter
• Core transaction deposits were up $1.7 billion or 22%, mainly driven by noninterest bearing demand deposit growth of $1.1 billion; a significant portion of United’s core transaction deposit growth was attributable to PPP-related deposits
• Net interest margin of 3.42%, which was down 65 bps from first quarter, reflecting the effect of lower interest rates, lower purchased loan accretion, the impact of the lower yielding PPP loans and a much higher level of low-yielding, highly-liquid assets
• Mortgage rate locks of $802 million, which is slightly higher than last quarter and again exceeds our previous quarterly record by 58%; this compares to $390 million a year ago
• Noninterest income was up $14.4 million on a linked quarter basis, primarily due to a $15.3 million increase in mortgage income as a result of record mortgage rate locks and production, as well as an improved market environment
• Efficiency ratio of 55.86%, or 55.59% excluding merger-related and other charges
• Net charge-offs of $6.1 million, or 25 basis points as a percent of average loans, down 12 basis points from last quarter and mainly attributable to two credits that have been substandard for more than a year
• Nonperforming assets of 0.32% of total assets, which is up 4 basis points compared to March 31, 2020
• Total deferrals of $1.8 billion or 17% of the total loan portfolio at June 30
• Funded the United Community Bank Foundation with an initial $1 million contribution for charities and causes throughout the footprint
• Completed a public offering of $100 million aggregate of 6.875% Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock and $100 million aggregate principal amount of 5.000% Fixed-to-Floating Senior Notes due 2030
• Effective July 1, 2020, United completed its merger with Three Shores Bancorporation, Inc. and its bank subsidiary, Seaside National Bank & Trust

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