Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Florida's Banks Earn Profits but Battle Some Headwinds

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Florida's Banks Earn Profits but Battle Some Headwinds

Article excerpt

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN Florida maintained their money-earning ways in the second quarter, although overall profits dipped from the start of the year.

The state's 217 banks and thrifts earned a combined $160 million in the quarter ended June 30, according to data released last week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

That was up from an $80 million profit a year earlier, but down from the $172 million earned in first-quarter 2012.

Some signs of weakness remain, however.

Thirty percent of Florida's institutions lost money through the first half of the year, compared with just 11 percent across the country.

The nation's 7,246 banks posted net income of $34.5 billion in the second quarter, up by $5.9 billion over a year ago. It was the 12th straight quarter that earnings registered a year-over-year gain, the FDIC said.

Another good sign: the number of banks on the FDIC's problem list declined from 772 to 732, the lowest roster of troubled banks since year-end 2009. Total assets of those problem institutions fell by $10 billion to $292 billion.

A total of 40 banks have failed as of Aug. 30, well off last year's pace of 68 failures at that point. Fifteen banks were closed in the second quarter, including three in Florida.

"The banking industry continued to make gradual but steady progress toward recovery in the second quarter," said FDIC Acting Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg.

"Levels of troubled assets and troubled institutions remain high, but they are continuing to improve."

The year is shaping up a bounce-back year for Florida's banking industry, which was hammered harder than most other states' by the recession and real estate downturn.

Florida banks and thrifts have now earned $332 million through the first half of the year, nearly double their combined $178 million profit for all of 2011.

Florida's 197 commercial banks earned $155 million in the second quarter, compared with a loss of $96 million last year. The 20 thrifts earned just $5 million, down from a $115 million profit a year ago.

Statewide, the average return on assets -- a key yardstick of profitability -- was 0.48 percent, up from 0. …

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