A photo of the First Financial Bank skyscraper in Cincinnati, Ohio
A photo of the First Financial Bank skyscraper in Cincinnati, Ohio

First Financial Bancorp Announces First Quarter 2024 Financial Results and Quarterly Dividend

  • Earnings per diluted share of $0.53; $0.59 on an adjusted* basis
  • Return on average assets of 1.18%; 1.30% on an adjusted* basis
  • Net interest margin on FTE basis* of 4.10%
  • Acquired Agile Premium Finance
  • Loan growth of $271.9 million; 10.0% on an annualized basis
  • Tangible common equity ratio increased to 7.23%
  • Quarterly dividend of $0.23 approved by Board of Directors

Cincinnati, Ohio - April 25, 2024. First Financial Bancorp. (Nasdaq: FFBC) (“First Financial” or the “Company”) announced financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2024.

For the three months ended March 31, 2024, the Company reported net income of $50.7 million, or $0.53 per diluted common share. These results compare to net income of $56.7 million, or $0.60 per diluted common share, for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Return on average assets for the first quarter of 2024 was 1.18% while return on average tangible common equity was 17.35%*. These compare to return on average assets of 1.31% and return on average tangible common equity of 21.36%* in the fourth quarter of 2023.

First quarter 2024 highlights include:

  • Net interest margin of 4.05%, or 4.10% on a fully tax-equivalent basis*
    • 16 bp decrease to 4.10% from 4.26% in the fourth quarter due to increasing funding costs
    • Decline from linked quarter driven by 19 bp increase in funding costs, which was partially offset by modestly higher asset yields
  • Noninterest income of $46.5 million, or $51.7 million as adjusted*
    • Strong leasing business income of $14.6 million
    • Wealth management continues strong performance; 9.6% increase from linked quarter
    • Foreign exchange and client derivative fees improved from lower levels in fourth quarter
    • Adjusted* $5.2 million for losses on sales of investment securities related to repositioning of a portion of the portfolio
  • Noninterest expenses of $122.4 million, or $121.0 million as adjusted*
    • Increase from fourth quarter driven by seasonal payroll taxes and increased variable compensationbtied to fee income
    • First quarter adjustments* include $0.2 million FDIC special assessment and $1.1 million of other costs such as acquisition, severance and branch consolidation costs
    • Efficiency ratio of 62.7%; 60.4% as adjusted*
  • Acquired Agile Premium Finance on February 29, 2024
    • Lends primarily to commercial customers to finance insurance premiums
    • $93.4 million in loan balances at acquisition; $119.0 million at March 31, 2024
    • $5.6 million of intangible assets, including $1.8 million of goodwill and $2.7 million customer list
  • Solid loan growth during the quarter
    • Loan balances increased $271.9 million compared to the linked quarter; includes $93.4 million acquired in Agile transaction
    • Growth of 10.0% on an annualized basis driven by Investor CRE and acquisition of Agile
  • Modest average deposit growth during the quarter
    • Average deposits increased $76.3 million, or 2.3% on an annualized basis; First quarter included approximately $100 million of seasonal business deposit outflows
    • Growth in money market accounts and retail CDs offset declines in noninterest bearing checking, savings and public funds
  • Total Allowance for Credit Losses of $160.4 million; Total quarterly provision expense of $11.2 million
    • Loans and leases - ACL of $144.3 million; ratio to total loans of 1.29% unchanged from fourth quarter
    • Unfunded Commitments - ACL of $16.2 million; decreased $2.3 million from linked quarter
    • Provision expense driven by net charge-offs and loan growth; Classified assets increased to $162.3 million
    • Annualized net charge-offs were 38 bps of total loans; 8 bps decline from linked quarter
    • NPAs to total assets of 0.34%; 4 bp, or 10.5% decline from linked quarter
  • Capital ratios stable and strong
    • Total capital ratio increased 5 bps to 14.31%
    • Tier 1 common equity decreased 6 bps to 11.67%
    • Tangible common equity increased 6 bps to 7.23%*; 9.18%* excluding impact from AOCI
    • Tangible book value per share of $12.50*;1.0% increase from linked quarter

Additionally, the board of directors approved a quarterly dividend of $0.23 per common share for the next regularly scheduled dividend, payable on June 17, 2024 to shareholders of record as of June 3, 2024.

Archie Brown, President and CEO, commented on the quarter, “I am pleased with our first quarter results and encouraged by our trends, several of which were bolstered by actions we took during the quarter. These actions included a repositioning of a portion of the investment portfolio, a workforce efficiency initiative, and the acquisition of Agile Premium Finance. We also commenced the restructuring of a portion of our bank owned life insurance portfolio, which is expected to increase income in the back half of the year.”

Mr. Brown continued, “Adjusted* earnings per share were $0.59, which resulted in an adjusted* return on assets of 1.30% and an adjusted* return on tangible common equity of 19.1%. At 4.10%, the net interest margin remains very strong. Asset yields remained steady during the quarter, however, as expected, the continued rise of funding costs negatively impacted our net interest margin. Additionally, loan growth was robust for the second consecutive quarter with balances increasing by 10% on an annualized basis. Average deposit growth slowed for the quarter to a 2.3% annualized growth rate and included a seasonal outflow of business deposits in the first part of the quarter.”

Mr. Brown continued, “I am also pleased that noninterest income rebounded from the fourth quarter with increases across most of our fee revenue areas. During the quarter, we incurred a loss on the sale of investment securities associated with the repositioning of a portion of the investment portfolio. This repositioning has a very short earnback and should enhance our asset yields going forward. We also intensified our focus on expenses during the first quarter. Our workforce efficiency initiative resulted in the reduction of 43 associates during the quarter and we will continue to evaluate additional expense reductions throughout 2024. While expenses increased on a linked quarter basis, most of the increase was related to seasonal employee costs and variable compensation tied to the increase in fee income.”

Mr. Brown discussed the Agile acquisition, “We are excited to add Agile to our mix of specialty businesses. Agile operates an impressive business model, which originates high-quality, short duration loans at attractive yields. At closing, we acquired $93 million in loans, which grew to $119 million at quarter end. We believe Agile will further diversify the loan portfolio and is a perfect complement to our Oak Street and commercial banking businesses.”

Mr. Brown commented on asset quality, “Asset quality was stable for the quarter. Net charge-offs declined for the second consecutive quarter to 38 basis points and were primarily driven by charges on two office loans that had been on nonaccrual since early 2023. These two loans have been charged down to their net realizable value and no other office loans were considered classified at the end of the first quarter. Overall, classified assets increased 12 basis points to 0.92% of assets, while nonperforming assets declined 9.8% from the prior quarter.”

Mr. Brown concluded, “I am pleased with our quarter and with the work our teams are doing to continuously improve the Company. While we are in a difficult operating environment for the industry, I am encouraged by our results and trends, and I expect we will have another strong year.”

Full detail of the Company’s first quarter 2024 performance is provided in the accompanying financial statements and slide presentation.

Teleconference / Webcast Information

First Financial’s executive management will host a conference call to discuss the Company’s financial and operating results on Friday, April 26, 2024 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Members of the public who would like to listen to the conference call should dial (888) 550-5723 (U.S. toll free) or (646) 960-0471 (U.S. local), access code 5048068. The number should be dialed five to ten minutes prior to the start of the conference call. A replay of the conference call will be available beginning one hour after the completion of the live call at (800) 770-2030 (U.S. toll free), (647) 362-9199 (U.S. local), access code 5048068. The recording will be available until May 10, 2024. The conference call will also be accessible as an audio webcast via the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website at www.bankatfirst.com. The webcast will be archived on the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website for 12 months.

Press Release and Additional Information on Website

This press release as well as supplemental information are available to the public through the Investor Relations section of First Financial's website at www.bankatfirst.com.

Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

This earnings release contains GAAP financial measures and Non-GAAP financial measures where management believes it to be helpful in understanding the Company’s results of operations or financial position. Where NonGAAP financial measures are used, the comparable GAAP financial measures, as well as a reconciliation to the comparable GAAP financial measure, can be found in the section titled “Appendix: Non-GAAP to GAAP Reconciliation” in the accompanying slide presentation.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this report which are not statements of historical fact constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘‘believes,’’ ‘‘anticipates,’’ “likely,” “expected,” “estimated,” ‘‘intends’’ and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements but are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements. Examples of forwardlooking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make about (i) our future operating or financial performance, including revenues, income or loss and earnings or loss per share, (ii) future common stock dividends, (iii) our capital structure, including future capital levels, (iv) our plans, objectives and strategies, and (v) the assumptions that underlie our forward-looking statements.

As with any forecast or projection, forward-looking statements are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forwardlooking statements. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts but instead express only management’s beliefs regarding future results or events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of management’s control. It is possible that actual results and outcomes may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results or outcomes indicated in these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in our forward-looking statements include the following, without limitation:

  • economic, market, liquidity, credit, interest rate, operational and technological risks associated with the Company’s business;
  • future credit quality and performance, including our expectations regarding future loan losses and our allowance for credit losses;
  • the effect of and changes in policies and laws or regulatory agencies, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and other legislation and regulation relating to the banking industry;
  • Management’s ability to effectively execute its business plans;
  • mergers and acquisitions, including costs or difficulties related to the integration of acquired companies;
  • the possibility that any of the anticipated benefits of the Company’s acquisitions will not be realized or will not be realized within the expected time period;
  • the effect of changes in accounting policies and practices;
  • changes in consumer spending, borrowing and saving and changes in unemployment;
  • changes in customers’ performance and creditworthiness;
  • the costs and effects of litigation and of unexpected or adverse outcomes in such litigation;
  • current and future economic and market conditions, including the effects of changes in housing prices, fluctuations in unemployment rates, U.S. fiscal debt, budget and tax matters, geopolitical matters, and any slowdown in global economic growth;
  • the adverse impact on the U.S. economy, including the markets in which we operate, of the novel coronavirus, which causes the Coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”), global pandemic, and the impact on the performance of our loan and lease portfolio, the market value of our investment securities, the availability of sources of funding and the demand for our products;
  • our capital and liquidity requirements (including under regulatory capital standards, such as the Basel III capital standards) and our ability to generate capital internally or raise capital on favorable terms;
  • financial services reform and other current, pending or future legislation or regulation that could have a negative effect on our revenue and businesses, including the Dodd-Frank Act and other legislation and regulation relating to bank products and services;
  • the effect of the current interest rate environment or changes in interest rates or in the level or composition of our assets or liabilities on our net interest income, net interest margin and our mortgage originations, mortgage servicing rights and mortgage loans held for sale;
  • the effect of a fall in stock market prices on our brokerage, asset and wealth management businesses;
  • a failure in or breach of our operational or security systems or infrastructure, or those of our third-party vendors or other service providers, including as a result of cyber attacks;
  • the effect of changes in the level of checking or savings account deposits on our funding costs and net interest margin; and
  • our ability to develop and execute effective business plans and strategies.

Additional factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those described in our forward-looking statements can be found in our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2023, as well as our other filings with the SEC, which are available on the SEC website.

All forward-looking statements included in this filing are made as of the date hereof and are based on information available at the time of the filing. Except as required by law, the Company does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statement.

About First Financial Bancorp

First Financial Bancorp. is a Cincinnati, Ohio based bank holding company. As of March 31, 2024, the Company had $17.6 billion in assets, $11.2 billion in loans, $13.5 billion in deposits and $2.3 billion in shareholders’ equity. The Company’s subsidiary, First Financial Bank, founded in 1863, provides banking and financial services products through its six lines of business: Commercial, Retail Banking, Investment Commercial Real Estate, Mortgage Banking, Commercial Finance and Wealth Management. These business units provide traditional banking services to business and retail clients. Wealth Management provides wealth planning, portfolio management, trust and estate, brokerage and retirement plan services and had approximately $3.6 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2024. The Company operated 130 full service banking centers as of March 31, 2024, located in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois, while the Commercial Finance business lends into targeted industry verticals on a nationwide basis. Additional information about the Company, including its products, services and banking locations, is available at www.bankatfirst.com. The full press release and selected financial information can be found on the Investor Relations website.


Jamie Anderson

Chief Financial Officer

(513) 887-5400



Tim Condron

Marketing Communications Manager

(513) 979-5796