Strong growth in fee income and other noninterest revenues
helped lift commercial bank earnings to a near-record $13.78 billion
in the second quarter of 1996, according to preliminary data from
the FDIC. The second-quarter earnings, just $45 million below the
all-time high of $13.83 billion earned in the third quarter of 1995,
mark only the second time that the industry's profits exceeded $13
The noninterest income in the second quarter (a record
$24.1 billion) combined with improved net interest income from
loans and other assets outweighed rising loan-loss expenses. The
resulting $13.78 billion net profit was a 15 percent improvement
over the $12 billion banks earned in both the first quarter of 1996
and in the second quarter of last year.
In addition, the FDIC reported that insured savings banks
and savings and loan institutions together had record quarterly
earnings of $2.6 billion, surpassing the previous quarterly record of
$2.5 billion set in the first quarter of 1996. Increased net interest
income contributed to the increase in earnings.
Second-quarter performance results for 9,689 FDIC-insured
commercial banks and 1,981 FDIC-insured savings institutions are
contained in the agency's latest Quarterly Banking Profile, which is
based on quarterly income and condition reports filed by insured
commercial banks and savings institutions. The latest Profile
analyzes trends in banking performance from April through June of
this year. Highlights follow.
The average return on assets (ROA) -- a basic yardstick of
profitability -- stood at 1.27 percent for the quarter, up from 1.12
percent the previous quarter and 1.16 percent a year ago. This is
the third-highest quarterly average ROA in the industry's history
(after the 1.32 percent in the third quarter of 1995 and the 1.28
percent in the third quarter of 1993). The average ROA at
commercial banks now has exceeded one percent for 14
Earnings strength was evident throughout the industry.
About seven out of 10 banks (72 percent) reported higher earnings
than a year earlier, and a similar proportion (70 percent) reported
ROAs above one percent.
The record level of noninterest income was responsible for
much of the improvement in earnings. Increased fee income and
gains on merger-related sales of assets by large banks helped lift
noninterest revenues by 19.8 percent compared to the second
quarter last year. Net interest income was 5.3 percent higher than a
year ago and helped boost bank profits in the second quarter. Net
interest margins (essentially the difference between earnings on
interest-bearing assets and interest paid to depositors and other
creditors, expressed as a percentage of average earning assets)
increased for the industry as a whole, with the greatest
improvement coming at smaller banks.
Commercial bank assets increased by $88.6 billion in the
second quarter, with a large share of the increase coming in loans
(up $57.5 billion). Most loan categories registered strong growth
during the quarter, with large percentage gains coming in loans to
commercial borrowers and consumers. Net loan losses were 36
percent higher than a year ago, but overall charge-off rates remain
low by historic standards. The $3.8 billion banks charged off in the
quarter was the second-highest total in the last 10 quarters, after
the $4.0 billion banks charged off in the fourth quarter of 1995. On
the positive side, there was an $832 million reduction in banks'
noncurrent loans (loans past due 90 days or more or in nonaccrual
status) during the quarter.
The number of commercial banks declined by 149 during
the second quarter, to 9,689. Although 175 banks were absorbed by
mergers and two were lost through failures, 30 new banks were
chartered in the second quarter. A total of 59 new banks were
established during the first six months of the year, which suggests
that new charters for 1996 may exceed the 102 for last year. At
mid-year, 99 banks with $8 billion in assets were on the FDIC's
"problem list," down from 127 banks with $13 billion in assets at
the start of the second quarter.
The record $2.6 billion in second-quarter net income for
FDIC-insured savings institutions represents an increase of $687
million from a year earlier and $50 million more than the previous
record set in the first quarter of 1996. The average ROA for the
quarter, at 1.02 percent, also represents a new industry record. The
increase in second-quarter profits primarily resulted from a $207
million boost in net interest income industry-wide and a $110
million net tax benefit booked by one large savings institution.
The number of insured savings institutions fell below 2,000
for the first time since 1937. There were 1,981 thrifts at the end of
the second quarter, a net decline of 24 from the end of the first
quarter. The commercial banking industry absorbed 17 savings
institutions through mergers and charter conversions, while mergers
within the thrift industry absorbed an additional 12 institutions. For
the fourth consecutive quarter there were no thrift failures. There
were 38 thrift institutions with $10 billion in assets on the "problem
list" at mid-year, down from 42 institutions with $13 billion in
assets at the end of the first quarter.
The Insurance Funds
The Bank Insurance Fund's (BIF) reserves increased from $1.31
to $1.32 for each $100 of insured deposits for the second
consecutive quarter. The Savings Association Insurance Fund's
(SAIF) reserves increased to 55 cents for each $100 of insured
deposits, up from 50 cents three months earlier. However, the
SAIF remains well below the $1.25 level mandated by law. As a
result, premiums for most SAIF members remain at 23 cents for
each $100 of assessable deposits, compared to about a third of a
penny per $100 for BIF members. In fact, the nation's largest thrift
is estimated to pay SAIF premiums in 1996 that exceed the total
amount of premiums paid into the BIF.
The BIF assessment base increased $21 billion during the
quarter, to $2.494 trillion. During the same period, the SAIF
assessment base decreased $2.5 billion, to $736 billion, as migration
to the BIF continued.
Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in
1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system.
The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 11,670 banks and
savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of
these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks
to which they are exposed.
The Quarterly Banking Profile is available on the Internet via
theWorld Wide Web at www.fdic.gov, through Gopher at
gopher.fdic.gov, or by fax (use the phone attached to your fax
machine, dial 1-800-642-0003 and follow the voice prompts to
request document No. 229). It can also be obtained through the
FDIC's Public Information Center, 801 17th St. NW, Room 100,
Washington, DC, ((703) 562-2200).