published on April 29, 2016 - 9:28 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Bank of the Sierra will open its newest branch Monday in Sanger. The location, at 1500 7th Street in downtown Sanger, will be the bank’s 30th branch in the Valley.
The 2,900-square-foot Sanger branch includes fully remodeled lobby and exterior and will offer a range of consumer and business financial products and services, including checking and savings accounts, loans and lines of credit.

“We’re seeing a lot of expansion this year, and the addition of Sanger demonstrates our continuing commitment to the communities near our home town in the Central Valley,” said Kevin McPhaill, president and CEO of the Porterville-based bank. “We’re confident that the new Sanger location will become a strong part of the community.”
Lobby hours for the new Sanger branch will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays.
Since its founding in 1977, Bank of the Sierra has grown to become the largest independently owned bank in the southern San Joaquin Valley, with approximately $1.8 billion in assets and more than 400 employees.

Earnings increase noted
Sierra Bancorp, Porterville-based parent company of Bank of the Sierra, saw an 8-percent bump in first-quarter net income compared to last year.
For the quarter ended March 31, the bank earned net income of $4.03 million, an improvement of $298,000 from the first quarter of 2015.
The increase is due to higher net interest income, growth in interest-earning assets and an increase in service charges stemming from higher deposit activity, especially commercial accounts.
McPhaill said growth in core deposits and income was tempered by decreased loan activity.
“Core deposits continued their favorable growth trend through the first three months of 2016, but we experienced a reduction in total loans subsequent to year-end due in large part to fluctuations in the mortgage warehouse portfolio and strong loan growth during the fourth quarter of last year.  We are optimistic that we will see loans resume growing this year as a result of the marketing and business development efforts of our banking team,” McPhaill stated.
The bank’s total assets as of March 31 was $1.76 billion, up from $1.73 billion at the same time last year, but below $1.79 billion at the end of 2015.
The drop in assets was due to a net decline of $39 million, or 3 percent, in gross loan balances and a reduction of $5 million, or 9 percent, in cash balances, partially offset by an increase of $15 million, or 3 percent, in investment securities, according to the bank.

CVCB up 38 percent
Central Valley Community Bancorp, parent company of Fresno’s Central Valley Community Bank, reported net income of $3.4 million in the first quake, up 38 percent from the same quarter of 2015.
On the basis of diluted earnings, net income was 31 cents per share in the period, compared to 22 cents for the three months ending March 31, 2015.
The earnings increase was attributed to an increase in net interest income, a decrease in non-interest expenses, a decrease in provision for credit losses and an increase in non-interest income.
“The first quarter financial results demonstrate the Company’s continued positive trends in performance. Loans and deposits have grown year-over-year, which reflect the hard work of the entire Central Valley Community Bank team and the valued referrals from customers. Our strategic focus continues to be improving the financial metrics of the Company, while expanding and deepening client relationships throughout our footprint. We remain dedicated to that purpose and our first quarter financial results reflect that commitment,” stated James M. Ford, President and CEO of Central Valley Community Bancorp and Central Valley Community Bank.
Total assets as of March 31 were $1.27 billion, mostly unchanged from the same date last year.

Visalia bank has a great Q1
Valley Commerce Bancorp, holding company of Visalia’s Valley Business Bank, reported first quarter income of $1.1 million, or 38 cents per diluted common share.
That’s compared to earnings of $795,000, or 27 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.
The bank also recently celebrated a key milestone, said Allan W. Stone, president and CEO.
“On April 8, 2016, the Company completed its 20th year of operations. I am very pleased to announce that our first quarter 2016 earnings of over $1.1 million were the highest first quarter earnings ever reported by Valley Business Bank. Our team’s success at growing the loan portfolio in 2015 resulted in stronger loan revenue in 2016. In addition, we experienced significant loan loss recoveries in the first quarter of 2016. These recoveries were initially recorded as an addition to our allowance for loan and lease losses but the continuing high quality of our loan portfolio made it appropriate to record a reversal of our loan loss provision resulting in a benefit to net income.”  Stone said.
“In the first quarter we completed our most recent round of scheduled regulatory examinations and I am more convinced than ever that our very strong team of banking professionals will continue to achieve success despite a challenging economic and regulatory environment,” he added.
The bank had total assets of $409.8 million on March 31, down slightly from $422.2 million on March 31, 2015.

United Security Bank reports earnings
United Security Bancshares, parent of Fresno’s United Security Bank, announced first-quarter income of more than $1.7 million, up 44 percent compared to the same time last year.
On a basis of diluted earnings per share for the first three months of the year, the price was 11 cents compared to 8 cents for the same period last year.
“We have begun 2016 on a high note with growth in our loan portfolio and core deposit base, all while decreasing levels of nonperforming assets and maintaining strong capital and liquidity levels.  We look forward to continued success in 2016,” said Dennis R. Woods, president and CEO, in a statement.
Other highlights for the first quarter of 2016:
— Net interest income increased to $6.61 million, compared to $6.2 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2015, and decreased from $6.7 million in the preceding quarter.
— Total loans increased to $518.2 million compared to $515.3 million at Dec. 31, 2015.
— Total assets were up $16.1 million, or 2.23 percent, for the three months ended March 31, due to net growth of $13.5 million in the investment portfolio and $2.91 million in gross loan balances.  
Total assets as of March 31 were $741.79 million.

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