Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Banks Report Loan Growth

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Banks Report Loan Growth

Article excerpt

North Jersey community banks say loan growth continued in the most recent quarter, led by commercial real estate lending, as the economy and business confidence improved. Banks including Clifton Savings, Bank of New Jersey and Investors Bancorp are among the latest to report loan growth as the economic expansion accelerated.

Clifton Bancorp, under new leadership this year, is putting more emphasis on business lending, and on Monday the bank said loans secured by multifamily dwellings and other commercial real estate increased 44 percent to $20.8 million for the period. The average balance of outstanding loans increased to $613.6 million in the most recent quarter from $521.7 million from the same period a year ago.

The holding company for Clifton Savings Bank, which has a dozen offices, said net income for the fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 30 was $1.48 million, or 6 cents a share, up from $1.41 million, or 5 cents, in the year-earlier period.

"Despite competitive pressures, we continue to grow our loan portfolio, especially multifamily and commercial real estate loans, said Paul M. Aguggia, chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.

Bank of New Jersey, based in Fort Lee, released an earnings report last week that showed loans increased 9.4 percent to $588.6 million between June 30 and Sept. 30.

"The flat interest-rate environment has helped us," said Michael Lesler, CEO at Bank of New Jersey. Leading the growth at that institution were construction loans and refinancing of loans backed by mixed-use properties, Lesler said. "Part of what we are seeing is a strengthening of the real-estate environment, just a little bit."

Bank of New Jersey earned about $1.3 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from $1.2 million in the year-earlier period as expenses rose and construction on its 10th branch, in Englewood Cliffs, got under way with a summer opening planned.

According to John McWeeney, president of the New Jersey Bankers Association, the most recent quarter performance at banks in the state seems to be consistent with the trend seen throughout the year.

Statewide statistics for the latest quarter are not yet available, but as of June 30, the outstanding loan balances at New Jersey-based banks were up by $5 billion or about 5 percent, "a pretty healthy increase," he said. …

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