Berkshire Hills Bancorp earnings per share up 50%

Berkshire Hills Bancorp announced a 50 percent increase in earnings per share for the first quarter compared to the start of last year.

The parent company of Berkshire Bank reported earnings of 45 cents per share for the quarter, up from 30 cents per share in the same quarter of 2011. "This increase resulted from ongoing business expansion together with the benefit of the acquisitions of Rome Bancorp and Legacy Bancorp," the company noted. The company acquired Rome Savings Bank in April 2011.

Berkshire President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Daly said, "We maintained strong momentum as we started the year," and added that the company continues to have "strong growth in our balance sheet, while maintaining a solid net interest margin. Our fee revenue also grew strongly during the quarter, while our focused expense discipline resulted in operating costs a little better than our expectations. Our core profitability improved and we are generating positive core operating leverage, with revenue growth exceeding expense growth. Our loan performance metrics remain favorable and improving. We are maintaining the momentum we need to achieve our earnings growth targets and to generate revenue growth through further market share gains."

The Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of 17 cents per share to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 10, payable on May 24.

The company’s total assets increased at a 4 percent annualized rate during the first quarter of 2012, including 11 percent annualized loan growth. The $82 million increase in loans primarily resulted from increased bookings of Massachusetts residential mortgages relating to the partnership with Greenpark Mortgage during the transition period prior to the planned acquisition in the second quarter. Commercial business loans increased at an 18 percent annualized rate.

Total net revenue increased by $1 million in the first quarter, compared to that quarter last year due to an increase in fee income, including the benefit of increases in mortgage secondary market income, insurance income, and wealth management income, Berkshire noted.