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Berkshire Hills Bancorp profit jumps

Fourth-quarter earnings per share rose nearly 54 percent at Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: BHLB), as the company generated organic growth and reaped the benefits of its acquisitions of Rome Bancorp and Legacy Bancorp in 2011.

For the fourth quarter, Berkshire, which released its earnings Jan. 31, reported net income of $8.5 million, or 40 cents per share, up from $3.6 million, or 26 cents, a year earlier. For the full year, Berkshire’s net income rose from $13.9 million to 

$17.6 million, but per-share earnings slipped slightly from $1 to 98 cents.


“We continued our strong organic growth in targeted areas through year-end, resulting in 11 percent annualized core EPS [earnings per share] growth for the fourth quarter, compared to the linked quarter,” Berkshire President and CEO Michael P. Daly said in a news release. “We converted the Legacy core system in November and will have the full benefit of those additional cost savings [sic] beginning in 2012. Our merger integrations are now completed, allowing us to focus on revenue enhancements going forward.”

The company ended the year with core operating expenses below budget and improving return on assets and efficiency, he added.

Pittsfield, Mass.–based Berkshire, which acquired Rome Bancorp and its five branches last spring, starts off 2012 with the pending acquisition of The Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, which will expand the company’s presence in central and eastern New England.

Analysts forecast Berkshire will produce second-quarter earnings per share of 48 cents.

The fourth quarter was the first full quarter for Berkshire to include the benefit of the Rome and Legacy acquisitions.

Net-interest income increased 55 percent to $31.1 million for the quarter. For the year, net-interest income rose from 

$112.2 million to $138.3 million.

Berkshire’s provision for loan losses increased slightly from $2 million to $2.3 million in the fourth quarter. The provision for the year decreased from $8.5 million to $7.6 million.

Noninterest expense increased from $21.4 million to $29.5 million for the quarter. For the year, noninterest expense increased from $81.7 million to $116.1 million.

Total loans were $3 billion at the end of 2011, up 38 percent from 2010 including 2 percent organic growth plus the benefit of the acquisitions. Total deposits were $3.1 billion, up 41 percent from 2010, including 10 percent organic growth.

Berkshire’s board of directors declared a cash dividend of 17 cents payable on March 1 to shareholders of record as of Feb.16. The board also set the company’s annual meeting for 10 a.m. May 10 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, One West St., in Pittsfield.

Berkshire Hills Bancorp ( is the parent company of Berkshire Bank, which has $4 billion in assets and 59 branches in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont.

Berkshire Bank ranked seventh in deposit market share in the Utica–Rome market with a 6.8 percent share of total market deposits, according to June 30, 2011 FDIC data.      


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