Magazine article American Banker

Nonperformers Spike at M&T

Magazine article American Banker

Nonperformers Spike at M&T

Article excerpt

M&T Bank Corp. continued to struggle with credit quality in auto lending in the first quarter, as nonperforming assets nearly doubled from a year earlier.

The $57.8 billion-asset Buffalo company's overall results were mixed, with loan growth humming along but deposit growth sluggish and expenses rising.

"I wish the news could be better," Robert G. Wilmers, M&T's chairman and chief executive, said Tuesday during its annual meeting. "A quarter like that just past is sobering but does not at all shake our underlying belief in our business model."

Nonperforming loans jumped 91%, to $273.2 million, and the ratio of nonperforming loans to total loans rose 28 basis points, to 0.63%.

Mr. Wilmers called the jump "significant" but said credit quality is merely returning to normal levels.

Net chargeoffs were unchanged at $17 million.

Pressure on auto dealers started to show up in M&T's floorplan loan portfolio in mid-2006, though the company has repeatedly said that lending to auto dealers remains an important business.

"Lower domestic automobile sales have resulted in a difficult operating environment for certain automobile dealers, leading to deteriorating financial results," the company said.

Its loan-loss provision grew 50% from a year earlier but shrank3.6% fromthe fourth quarter, to $27 million.

M&T told analysts last month that earnings would not match their estimates, mainly because falling prices for alternative-A mortgages in the secondary market prompted the company to keep $883 million of such loans on its books instead of selling them. …

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