BANKS SHIFT FOCUS TO GROWING ASSETS
December 20, 2010
The Daily News
A little more than half of the two dozen banks the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis lists as based in the Memphis market have grown their asset base over the past year.
That would suggest an end to some of the asset dumping that took place during the recession, when banks that once chased growth as they made loans and collected deposits did an about-face.
However, most of the improvement is showing up in the area's smaller banks and in the local banks that primarily operate outside of Memphis proper.
For example, with the exception of Independent Bank, some of the largest banks based in the Memphis metropolitan statistical area saw their assets shrink between July and September when compared to the same period in 2009, according to preliminary third quarter data from the Fed.
First Tennessee Bank, the banking unit of Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp., shed almost $3 billion in year-to-date average assets over the past 12 months.
Bank of Bartlett, Paragon, BankTennessee and Tri-State Bank likewise were among the institutions based in or around Memphis that shrunk their assets between Q3 2009 and Q3 2010.
Independent Bank, the second-largest based in Memphis, was an exception. Its base of assets grew 12 percent, swelling from about $693 million to almost $780 million.
Meanwhile, the ranks of the area's growing financial institutions are mostly populated by smaller community banks. And among those that grew their assets between Q3 2009 and Q3 2010, the split was almost even between those in Shelby County and those in areas outside, like Fayette, DeSoto and Marshall counties.
They include the more than 100-year-old Bank of Fayette County, based in Moscow, Tenn. The bank, which has an old-fashioned, community feel, in the past has loaned money to farmers who needed funds to pay for feed. One of its branches was given an antebellum design.
The bank grew its year-to-date average assets from more than $266 million in Q3 2009 to more than $305 million in Q3 2010.
Memphis-based Triumph Bank is another community institution that followed the same trend. Triumph grew its year-to-date average assets from more than $176 million in Q3 2009 to almost $220 million in Q3 2010, according to the Fed data.
Evidently feeling flush with success, Triumph opened a third-quarter update letter to its "partners and friends" with a seven-figure number: $1,013,124.
That's Triumph's year-to-date profit for the nine months that ended Sept. 30.
"One of the landmark events of 2010 was our holding company's preferred stock capital raise, which ended (Sept. 15)," wrote Triumph president and CEO Will Chase and chief operating officer Michael McCarver in the letter. "We sold 307,667 shares of preferred stock totaling $3,692,004."
In a research note, Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc.’s equity research department said slow and steady progress and less unknowns are good for banks and should support a gradual pickup in investment and hiring in the coming months.