Magazine article American Banker

4Q Earnings: BankAtlantic Scales Back Both Growth Plan, Loss

Magazine article American Banker

4Q Earnings: BankAtlantic Scales Back Both Growth Plan, Loss

Article excerpt

Looking to trim overhead amid mounting credit-quality troubles, BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is scaling back its expansion plans and said it is considering leaving the Orlando market entirely.

The $6.4 billion-asset company announced late Tuesday that it had lost $9.9 million in the fourth quarter, down from a profit of $1 million a year earlier. For the year it lost $22.2 million, compared with a profit of $15.4 million in 2006.

BankAtlantic chairman and chief executive officer Alan B. Levan attributed the fourth-quarter loss largely to higher levels of nonperforming loans, particularly in its commercial real estate portfolio. At Dec. 31, nonperformers totaled $178.6 million, or 3.87% of total loans, compared to just 0.10% of total loans a year earlier.

Mr. Levan said the company is working closely with borrowers - primarily residential developers - to get the loans repaid. However, he added, economic conditions in Florida are "challenging," and "we do not anticipate the real estate housing market in Florida will improve in the near term."

Analysts said the silver linings in the earnings report were that the loss was much lower than the third quarter's $29.6 million and that nonperformers edged up only slightly. Nonperformers rose 8.4% from the third quarter after rising 626% in the third quarter.

Investors, too, appeared to be pleasantly surprised. BankAtlantic's shares closed at $5.01 Wednesday, up 15.4%.

Still, Matt Olney, an analyst at Stephens Inc. …

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