Wintrust reports 18.9 percent increase in profits

The Wintrust Bank branch on Ridge Road in Lansing. The bank earned $58.4 million in the first quarter.

Wintrust Financial Corp., a bank with a large presence in the Calumet Region, posted an 18.9 percent increase in profits in the first quarter.

The Rosemont-based bank, which has branches in Dyer, Lansing, South Holland, Steger and Crete, earned $58.4 million in the first quarter, up from $49.1 million during the same time last year. Earnings per diluted common share grew to $1, up from $0.90 per share during the same time in 2016.

"These results were driven by our momentum from 2016 carrying into 2017 with continued steady loan growth in the first quarter," President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Wehmer said. "The first quarter of 2017 was also characterized by our increased net interest margin, improved credit quality metrics and reduced operating costs, while offsetting an expected decrease in mortgage banking revenue."

In the first quarter, total loans increased by $278 million from the previous quarter, while assets increased by $110 million to $25.8 billion. The bank reduced operating expenses by $12.3 million from the previous quarter.

"As we saw in the first quarter, the structure of our balance sheet is well positioned to take advantage of higher interest rates, and is designed to provide an internal hedge to offset lower earnings from our mortgage banking operations and from reduced revenue from our covered call option program," Wehmer said.

Mortgage banking revenue totaled $21.9 million, a year-over-year increase of $200,000.

"Our mortgage pipeline strengthened in March and is expected to continue to strengthen in the second quarter," Wehmer said. "We continue to look for opportunities to further enhance the mortgage banking business both organically and through acquisitions."

Wintrust hopes to grow in the future.

“Our growth engine continued its momentum into 2017 and we anticipate the positive momentum realized in the first quarter to continue in all areas of our business for the remainder of 2017," he said. "Loan growth at the end of the current quarter should add to this momentum as period-end loan balances, excluding covered loans, mortgage loans held-for-sale and mortgage warehouse lines of credit, exceeded the first quarter average balances by approximately $240 million."

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.