The parent company of Olympia’s Heritage Bank produced another quarterly profit, citing loan growth as a key factor in driving its first-quarter numbers.
Heritage Financial Corp. earned a profit of $9.1 million in the first quarter, or 30 cents a share, compared with a profit of $9.8 million, or 32 cents a share in the same period a year ago.
Profit fell from the year-ago period, but last year’s results were skewed by a one-time gain tied to the sale of a credit card portfolio, President and Chief Executive Brian Vance said Thursday.
Core earnings in the first quarter improved and were helped by loan growth of 2.4 percent, or on an annualized basis, 9.6 percent, he said.
“Loan growth in the high single digits is a pretty good number,” Vance said.
Vance said business activity in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties is driving Heritage Financial’s growth. A year ago the company expanded its commercial lending in Seattle and that has resulted in more business loans and commercial real estate loans, particularly to multifamily projects in Capitol Hill and West Seattle, he said.
The company also repurchased 100,000 shares in the quarter, as well as issued about 100,000 shares of restricted stock awards to employees who met or achieved their goals. Heritage, too, increased its cash dividend to 12 cents from 11 cents.
Despite the earnings and growth, Heritage’s stock, which trades under the ticker symbol HFWA, fell 29 cents, or 1.62 percent, to close at $17.61 a share. The stock may have been pulled lower by the broader declines in the stock market Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average, for example, fell more than 100 points.
In the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $16.42 a share and $19.80 a share.
The company’s annual shareholders meeting is set for 10:30 a.m. May 4 at the Heritage Room, at Capitol Lake, downtown Olympia.