WestStar offering dividend of 5 cents a share | VailDaily.com

WestStar offering dividend of 5 cents a share

Cliff Thompson

The company will be issuing a 5-cents-per-share dividend to shareholders May 3. For the last few years Vail Banks has been on an acquisition binge that ended three quarters ago.

Net income for the first quarter that just ended was $1.52 million, up from the first quarter of 2001’s $1.35 million but down 3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2001.

Non-interest income, from banking and mortgage fees increased 22 percent, $532,000 compared to the first quarter of last year, but decreased 8 percent compared to the fourth quarter last year.

The net interest margin dipped to 5.76 percent for the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2001.

“The low-interest-rate environment and lower loan volumes have significantly reduced our loan income, said Dan Godec, president of WestStar Banks. “Nevertheless, we are positioning the company for solid growth by growing our deposit base and strengthening our credit culture. The bank has also increased its liquidity significantly to improve our ability to fund loan growth.’

The bank also decreased its loan losses slightly from 0.15 percent to 0.12 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

“Our credit quality has continued to improve,” said Lisa Dillon, president of VailBanks.

The company continues to repurchase stock with the goal of repurchasing $17 million. To date the company has repurchased 727,690 shares at an average price of $11.40 per share.

Net interest income for the quarter was $6.6 million, down $600,000 form the first quarter of 2001. Average loans decreased $21 million or 21 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2001.

“The uncertain economic climate and our desire to maintain a cautious credit underwriting posture produced lower loan volumes in the first quarter,” said Chairman E. B. Chester. “However, our approach has proven to be prudent as evidenced by the fact our loan charge-offs were the lowest in five quarters.”

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