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First Business Reports Record First Quarter Profit $4.2 Million

MADISON, WI, – April 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – First Business Financial Services, Inc. (the “Company”) (“First Business”) (NASDAQ: FBIZ), the parent company of First Business Bank, First Business Bank – Milwaukee and Alterra Bank, today reported record first quarter results, including the first full quarter of contribution from Alterra Bank (“Alterra”), the Company’s Kansas City-based business banking subsidiary acquired on November 1, 2014. First Business, excluding the contributions of Alterra, again grew top line revenue to record levels, maintaining core momentum across its Midwest footprint.

Highlights for the quarter ended March 31, 2015 include:

  • Net income grew to a record $4.2 million, marking a 26% increase from net income of $3.3 million in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Diluted earnings per common share increased 15% to $0.97 for the quarter ended March 31, 2015, compared to $0.84 for the quarter ended March 31, 2014.
  • Annualized return on average assets and annualized return on average equity measured 1.00% and 11.98%, respectively, for the first quarter of 2015, compared to 1.06% and 12.01%, respectively, for the first quarter of 2014.
  • Top line revenue, consisting of net interest income and non-interest income, increased 43% to a record $18.8 million, compared to $13.1 million for the first quarter of 2014.Excluding Alterra’s contribution, first quarter 2015 top line revenue totaled a record $14.2 million, representing organic growth of 8% compared to the first quarter of 2014.
  • Trust assets exceeded $1 billion at March 31, 2015 contributing to the 13% growth in trust and investment services income to $1.2 million, compared to $1.1 million in the same period last year.
  • Full-time equivalent employees (“FTEs”) increased to 212 from 151 as of March 31, 2014, reflecting the addition of 46 Alterra employees which is also the primary reason for the 45% increase in compensation expense compared to the first quarter of 2014.
  • The Company’s first quarter efficiency ratio remained stable at 62%, compared to 61% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and 60% in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Net loans and leases grew for the twelfth consecutive quarter, reaching a record $1.282 billion at March 31, 2015, up 32% from March 31, 2014.Excluding Alterra, net loans and leases were a record $1.071 billion at March 31, 2015, increasing 10% from March 31, 2014.
  • Net interest margin increased to 3.79% for the first quarter of 2015, including 32 basis points related to the net accretion/amortization on purchase accounting adjustments on Alterra loans, deposits and borrowings, compared to 3.58% for the first quarter of 2014.
  • Loan loss provision was $684,000 for the first quarter of 2015, compared to $180,000 for the first quarter of 2014.
  • Non-performing assets as a percent of total assets declined to 0.65% at March 31, 2015, from 1.13% at March 31, 2014.
  • The effective tax rate for the first quarter of 2015 was 34%, compared to 28% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and 34% in the first quarter of 2014.

The Company recorded net income of $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $3.7 million earned in the fourth quarter of 2014 and $3.3 million earned in the first quarter of 2014. Diluted earnings per common share were $0.97 for the first quarter of 2015, compared to $0.89 for the linked quarter and $0.84 for the first quarter of 2014.

First quarter 2015 results include the impact of $78,000 in non-recurring, pre-tax merger expenses related to the Company’s recently concluded acquisition of Alterra, compared to $566,000 in merger expenses recorded for the fourth quarter of 2014. During the first quarter of 2015, Alterra generated $3.5 million in net interest income, $1.1 million in non-interest income, $2.4 million in non-interest expense and incurred $362,000 in loan loss provision, contributing a total of $1.9 million in pre-tax income to First Business’s first quarter results.

For the final two months of 2014, Alterra produced $2.0 million in net interest income, $567,000 in non-interest income, $1.5 million in non-interest expense and $337,000 in loan loss provision, contributing a total of $638,000 in pre-tax income to First Business’s fourth quarter 2014 results.

“We’re off to a strong start in 2015. While the first quarter is historically our softest in terms of overall production across the franchise, our record quarterly results clearly display the success and benefits of our acquisition of Alterra as we continue to grow loans and increase revenues,” said Corey Chambas, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Small Business Administration (“SBA”) lending pipelines remain strong in our Kansas City market, while at the same time our initiative to expand Alterra’s SBA lending platform to our Wisconsin markets has already started to produce results. Coupled with our steady and growing legacy franchise, which again delivered record levels of loans, deposits, trust revenue and top line revenue, our early 2015 performance continues to exhibit the strength of our differentiated approach to business banking.”

Results of Operations Net interest income for the first quarter of 2015 totaled $14.9 million, an increase of $4.1 million, or 38.2%, compared to the first quarter of 2014. Alterra contributed $3.5 million in first quarter 2015 net interest income, including $1.2 million in fair value adjustments related to the net accretion/amortization of the purchase accounting adjustments on loans, deposits and borrowings.

Overall, consolidated net interest income benefited from a decrease in funding costs and growth in earning assets. In addition, net interest income benefited from the first full-quarter contribution from Alterra’s higher average yielding loan portfolio, which offset the decline in First Business’s earning asset yields attributable to its other bank subsidiaries.

First quarter 2015 average earning asset balances were 30.7% higher than the prior-year period, including the impact of Alterra, while earning asset yields increased to 4.62% from 4.44% in the first quarter of 2014. Net interest margin of 3.79% increased 12 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2014 and 21 basis points from the first quarter of 2014. First quarter 2015 net interest margin included 32 basis points related to the net accretion/amortization on the Alterra purchase accounting adjustments of $1.2 million.

The linked quarter margin included 11 basis points related to the net accretion/amortization on the purchase accounting adjustments of $392,000 and 14 basis points related to the interest recovery on a non-accrual loan payoff. Net interest margin may experience occasional volatility due to non-recurring events such as prepayment fees collected in lieu of interest, the collection of foregone interest, the accumulation of significant short-term deposit inflows or the ongoing accretion/amortization of the fair value purchase accounting adjustments related to the acquisition of Alterra.

Non-interest income of $3.8 million for the first quarter of 2015 increased $1.5 million, or 65.8%, from the first quarter of 2014. Alterra contributed $1.1 million in non-interest income during the first quarter of 2015, including $477,000 in loan sale gains and $165,000 in loan fees, primarily related to the continued strength in Alterra’s SBA lending business. Excluding income directly attributed to the Alterra markets, non-interest income grew by $452,000, or 19%, from the prior year first quarter, reflecting the early success of efforts to expand Alterra’s SBA lending expertise into First Business’s Wisconsin markets, along with the continued success of the Company’s initiatives to grow full-service banking relationships. Excluding Alterra, gains related to the sale of the guaranteed portion of SBA loans totaled $176,000.

Meanwhile, trust and investment services income of $1.2 million remained the primary source of fee revenue, increasing $139,000, or 13.0%, from the first quarter of 2014. Growth continued to reflect strength in client accounts and equity market values, with trust assets under management and administration measuring a record $1.009 billion as of March 31, 2015, up 4.1% compared to $969.3 million at March 31, 2014. Non-interest expense for the first quarter of 2015 was $11.7 million, an increase of $3.9 million, or 49.4%, compared to the first quarter of 2014. First quarter 2015 included $2.4 million in expenses at Alterra, along with $78,000 in non-recurring merger-related costs. Excluding merger-related costs and expenses generated by Alterra, non-interest expense increased by $1.4 million, or 18.4%, compared to the first quarter of 2014. Excluding Alterra, compensation costs grew by $879,000, or 17.4%, reflecting annual merit increases and continued investments in employees. The Company’s meaningful investments in talent throughout 2014 and 2015, excluding Alterra, resulted in FTEs increasing to 166 at March 31, 2015, up 9.9% from 151 at March 31, 2014.

In addition, advertising and professional services costs increased in line with strategic initiatives for growth and investments in technology and talent. Management expects to continue investing in employees, products and technology to support growth efforts, while remaining committed to its history of efficient expense management. The Company’s efficiency ratio of 62.5% for the first quarter of 2015 reflects continued success in aligning non-interest expense growth with top line revenue growth. The Company recorded a provision for loan and lease losses totaling $684,000 for the first quarter of 2015, compared to $180,000 in the first quarter of 2014. During the first quarter of 2015, the Company recorded $362,000 in provision to establish Alterra’s loan loss reserve on new loans, including those which have been renewed since acquisition as required by the applicable accounting guidance.

Additionally, the Company experienced $319,000 in net charge-offs, including $313,000 related to one commercial loan. The remaining outstanding principal balance on this loan was paid in full in April 2015. Net charge-offs represented an annualized 0.10% of average loans for the first quarter of 2015. This compares to annualized net recoveries measuring 0.01% of average loans in the first quarter of 2014.

The effective tax rate for the first quarter of 2015 was 34%, compared to 28% and 34% in the linked and year-ago quarters, respectively. The effective tax rate for the calendar year 2014 was 33%. The fourth quarter 2014 effective tax rate was lowered by the Company’s utilization of new market federal tax credits of $243,750 in connection with community development-related loans. The Company expects to utilize a similar amount of federal tax credits in 2015, which will be recognized evenly across all quarters.

Balance Sheet and Asset Quality Strength Period-end net loans and leases grew for the twelfth consecutive quarter, reaching a record $1.282 billion at March 31, 2015. Net loans and leases grew $15.8 million from December 31, 2014 and $311.0 million from March 31, 2014. Excluding $210.9 million in loans and leases at Alterra, net loans and leases were a record $1.071 billion at March 31, 2015, increasing $100.1 million, or 10.3%, from the prior year first quarter.

This growth reflects successful execution by the Company’s legacy, recently-hired, and Alterra business development officers (“BDOs”) in deepening client relationships, attracting new commercial clients, and capitalizing on market opportunities. Period-end in-market deposits – consisting of all transaction accounts, money market accounts and non-wholesale deposits – increased to a record $1.055 billion, comprising 71.0% of total deposits at March 31, 2015. Period-end wholesale deposits were $431.0 million at March 31, 2015, consisting of brokered certificates of deposit and deposits gathered through internet deposit listing services of $380.0 and $50.9 million, respectively. Average in-market deposits were $1.058 billion, or 71.4% of total deposits, for the first quarter of 2015.

In order to reduce interest rate risk, the Company uses wholesale deposits to efficiently match-fund fixed-rate loans. Over time, management expects to maintain a ratio of in-market deposits to total deposits in line with the Company’s recent historical range of 60%-70%. Management continues to believe asset quality is a source of strength which differentiates the Company from many of its peers. Strong underwriting and the continued success of certain exit strategies, including payoffs and paydowns, continue to benefit asset quality metrics.

During the first quarter of 2015, non-performing loans decreased 4.5% to $9.4 million, compared to $9.8 million at December 31, 2014. As a result, the Company’s non-performing loans as a percentage of total gross loans and leases measured 0.72% at March 31, 2015, which was an improvement from 0.76% as of December 31, 2014.

Compared to 1.43% at March 31, 2014, first quarter non-performing loans as a percentage of total gross loans and leases demonstrates the Company’s success in implementing measures to benefit asset quality, and reflects the addition of Alterra loans, which were acquired at fair value in November 2014 with no corresponding reserves. Likewise, the ratio of non-performing assets to total assets declined to 0.65% at March 31, 2015, compared to 0.70% at December 31, 2014 and 1.13% at March 31, 2014. Non-performing assets totaled $10.9 million at March 31, 2015, compared to $11.5 million at December 31, 2014 and $14.4 million at March 31, 2014.

Capital Strength The Company’s earnings continue to generate capital, and its capital ratios are in excess of the highest required regulatory benchmark levels. As of March 31, 2015, total capital to risk-weighted assets was 11.40%, tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets was 8.98%, tier 1 capital to average assets was 8.42% and common equity tier 1 capital was 8.34%.

As of December 31, 2014, total capital to risk-weighted assets was 12.13%, tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets was 9.52% and tier 1 capital to average assets was 8.71%. Capital ratios as of March 31, 2015 reflect the Company’s estimated implementation of the capital guidelines under Basel III, which became effective January 1, 2015.

Quarterly Dividend As previously announced, during the first quarter of 2015 the Company’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.22 per share, an increase of $0.01, or 4.8%, from the regular quarterly dividends declared in 2014. The dividend was paid on February 27, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 13, 2015.

Measured against first quarter 2015 earnings per share of $0.97, the dividend represents what the Company believes is a sustainable 22.7% payout ratio. The Board of Directors routinely considers dividend declarations as part of its normal course of business.

About First Business
First Business Financial Services is a Wisconsin-based bank holding company, focused on the unique needs of businesses, business executives and high net worth individuals. First Business offers commercial banking, specialty finance and private wealth management solutions, and because of its niche focus, is able to provide its clients with unmatched expertise, accessibility and responsiveness. For additional information, visit www.firstbusiness.com.

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