May 7, 2008 – Cornelius, NC - Aquesta Bank (the Bank) released its quarterly results today for the period ending March 31, 2008. The Bank closed March with approximately $130.2 million in assets compared to $61.5 million at March 31, 2007, $96.0 million in deposits compared to $37.8 million at March 31, 2007, and $90.7 million in loans compared to $36.7 million at March 31, 2007. This represents a growth rate of 111.7 percent for assets, 154.0 percent for deposits and 147.1 percent for loans since March of last year. The March 31, 2008 quarter represents the sixth full quarter of operations since the Bank opened on August 6, 2006.
For the quarter ended March 31, the Bank incurred an operating loss of approximately $340,000 compared to a loss of $263,000 for the first quarter of 2007. This quarterly loss included a loan loss provision of $207,000 for 2008 compared to a loan loss provision of $147,000 for the first quarter of 2007. The increase in the provision for loan losses is in line with the higher loan portfolio growth generated in the 2008 quarter. As in prior quarters, the bank does not have any loans 30 days or more past due, has no “non-performing loans”, incurred no write-offs and also has no direct exposure to subprime loan issues. The loss in the first quarter of 2008 also includes a non-cash charge for amortization of stock option expense (which has a corresponding direct credit to equity) of approximately $50,000 compared to an expense of $44,000 in the first quarter of 2007.
During the quarter, the Bank continued to expand its Davidson branch at the new Davidson Commons Shopping Plaza. The Bank also opened Loan Production Offices (LPOs) in Concord and Gastonia. These LPOs will help Aquesta to continue its loan portfolio expansion while maintaining its branch expansion strategy focused on the Lake Norman area. The Bank moved into its new, environmentally friendly corporate headquarters building in Cornelius in mid February.
As to operating results, Aquesta Bank was well positioned to take advantage of decreasing interest rates. The Bank’s net interest income improved during the quarter. This was largely attributable to the Bank being formed in August of 2006 at the height of the interest rate environment and then focusing much of its initial lending activity in generating fixed rate owner occupied commercial loans and the growth of the Bank since the prior year. Consequently, net interest income improved in the first quarter of 2008 to $920,000 from $539,000 in the same quarter of 2007. The net loss excluding loan loss provision and stock option expense increased from $72,000 in 2007 to $83,000 in 2008 for the quarter. This increased loss was largely attributable to the start up expense of opening the Davidson branch, Gastonia and Concord LPO offices and the move expense from our temporary offices to our permanent headquarters.
Jim Engel, CEO and President of Aquesta Bank, said, “Although much of the country is experiencing slow or no growth, so far our area of operations is blessed with a sound and expanding economic environment. We continue to see tremendous business activity and expansion. Thus, we remain cautiously optimistic and continue to take advantage of these conditions with our expanding customer base. For the remainder of the year, Aquesta will focus on continued sound business expansion within its current cost structure.”
Aquesta Bank is a community bank dedicated to providing quality, customized banking for the Lake Norman area. The Bank focuses on personal financial solutions as well as those for small to medium-sized businesses. The Bank uses cutting edge technology to better service its customers, including on-line banking, on-line cash management, remote deposit technology and nationwide any bank free ATM usage.
Finally, the Bank announced it will hold its annual shareholder meeting on May 20th commencing at 7 PM at The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Morgan Stanley is sponsoring the guest speaker, Mr. Phil Orlando, a noted equity market strategist and frequent guest on CNBC, who will provide his view of the economy to those attending the meeting.
For more information on Aquesta Bank, please contact Cathy O’Nan, Director of Shareholder Relations or Lauren Furcht, Director of Marketing at (704) 439-4343 or visit our website at www.aquesta.com
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including without limitation, respect to our beliefs, plans, objectives, goals, expectations, anticipations, estimates and intentions, and involve unknown risk, uncertainties and other factors, which may beyond our control, and which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Aquesta Bank to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.