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People's Bank says first-quarter profits up by 63 percent

People's Bank of Commerce increased earnings by 63 percent in the first quarter as the Medford-based financial institution reported a $168,000 profit compared to $103,000 a year earlier.

Per-share earnings were 9 cents, versus 8 cents for the first three months of 2013, as the bank registered its 19th straight profitable quarter.

During 2013, People's Bank grew its assets 25 percent to $181.1 million from $144.5 million. In the first quarter, it maintained the momentum, with 23 percent growth to $192 million.

As a result, loans grew 12 percent to more than $124.2 million in the first quarter.

"We are satisfied, but we would like to have seen 15 percent," said Chief Financial Officer Russ Millburn. "According to the FDIC, the average loan growth for banks our size across the country was 3.3 percent. We expect growth to turn up in the second quarter, too."

Business loans, including commercial buildings, lines of credit and capital improvements, have shown double-digit improvement, he said. Real-estate loans, including construction and home-equity loans, have grown more than 22 percent.

"Our consumer loans to individuals actually went down, mostly because we can't compete for those types of loans with credit unions that operate tax-free," he said.

During the first quarter, net interest income rose 13 percent, year-over-year, while non-interest income declined 12 percent, reflecting a drop in mortgage activity.

Past-due and non-accrual loans to total loans were nil as of March, compared to 0.04 percent a year ago.

"We continue to be pleased with the trend of low non-current loans, which signifies the continuing improvement in the loan portfolio and in the local economy," President and CEO Kent Trautman said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

People's Bank of Commerce, shown here on E. Barnett Road in Medford, reported its first-quarter earnings Wednesday. - Julia Moore