First Merchants Bank boosts profits by 5.8% in first quarter

A First Merchants Bank branch in Munster. The bank boosted earnings per share by 5.4%.

First Merchants Bank earned $38.8 million in the first quarter, a 5.8% increase as compared to the $36.7 million it made during the first quarter of 2018.

The Muncie-based bank, which has 18 locations in Northwest Indiana and northeast Illinois, grew earnings per share to 5.4% to $0.78 per share.

“We are excited to begin 2019 with a solid quarter of operating results," First Merchants President and CEO Michael Rechin said. "Our focus on the marketplace produced strong deposit growth and liquidity for our balance sheet. The loan pipeline continues to reflect an expanding Midwest economy with healthy asset quality throughout the portfolio. Our primary financial ratios and related key performance indicators continue to reflect the results of a high performing company.” 

The bank, which established a large Northwest Indiana footprint after buying Citizens Financial Bank in Munster in 2013, now has $10.2 billion in assets and $7.3 billion in loans. Its loan portfolio has grown by 5.7% or $397 million over the past year. Its investments have risen by 20.7% or $319 million to $1.9 billion during the same period.

First Merchants is now in the process of buying Monroe Bank & Trust in southeast Michigan for $290.9 million, a deal that's expected to further boost its earnings in the future.

“We now have shareholder, Indiana Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation approvals in hand regarding our merger with Monroe Bank & Trust," Rechin said. "We continue to anticipate our holding company’s approval from the Federal Reserve Bank and a legal closing in the current quarter. Our integration activities and re-branding efforts are planned for the third quarter.”

First Merchants Bank grew deposits by 9.8% to $8 billion in the first quarter of 2019. The bank grew net interest income by 6.3% to $84.9 million in the first three months of the year, while non-interest income dipped by $848,00 to $18.7 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.