Franklin Financial Network Logo (PRNewsFoto/Franklin Financial Network, Inc)

Franklin Financial executives on Wednesday said the company’s directors have approved its first quarterly dividend and authorized a $30 million share repurchase program.
The dividend declaration of 4 cents per share — it will be payable to investors of record Feb. 15 — will give Franklin Financial a dividend yield of about 0.6 percent. The buyback, meanwhile, would reduce the company’s share count by about 7 percent (Ticker: FSB) if executed in full today.
Franklin Financial’s new initiatives come after similar moves by several other local lenders. Late last year, Pinnacle Financial Partners launched its first buyback while Reliant Bancorp and First Farmers and Merchants lifted their quarterly payouts.
Franklin Financial Chairman, President and CEO Richard Herrington and his team announced the dividend and buyback along with their fourth-quarter profits late Wednesday. The 11-year-old company posted a profit of $3.7 million, up from $2.4 million in the last three months of 2017 but down from more than $10 million in each of 2018’s other quarters. Adjusted for one-time items — primarily a $4.2 million loss on the sales of securities and a $3.2 million charge for some retirement benefits — profits were $9.2 million versus $7.7 million in late 2017.
Franklin Financial grew its loan book by $115 million during the quarter and finished the year up 18 percent. Assets ended the year at $4.25 billion while the company’s equity grew to $373 million, up from $305 million at the end of 2017.
Reliant Bancorp finished 2018 on a high note, posting a profit of $4.1 million as interest and fee income growth outpaced expenses. Excluding charges related to the company’s purchase of Community First and other one-time items, profits climbed 68 percent year over year to $4.0 million.

Reliant’s loan portfolio rose about 3 percent during the quarter (and 59 percent for the year) to $1.22 billion and higher yields helped push its net interest margin to 3.82 percent from 3.77 percent in the third quarter.
“We are pleased to report record earnings for the fourth quarter and full year for our company, a testament to the hard work and dedication of our associates,” said DeVan Ard, Jr., Reliant’s chairman, president and CEO. “Our earnings growth was driven by strong loan demand, a stable net interest margin, superior asset quality, and solid core deposit growth at our new banking centers in Murfreesboro and Chattanooga.”
Reliant shares (Ticker: RBNC) ended Wednesday trading at $21.29. They have fallen about 20 percent in the past six months.

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