Georgia's community banks and thrifts posted strong profitability in the first quarter, outpacing the Southeast and the nation as a whole.
The median return on average equity for Georgia's banks and thrifts with less than $10 billion in assets was 9.79% in the first quarter, compared to 9.15% for all Southeastern community banks and 9.27% for all U.S. community banks. Meanwhile, the median net interest margin for the state was 4.26%, higher than the Southeast median of 3.92% and the U.S. median of 3.79%.
Georgia's nonperforming assets ratio improved by 15 basis points year over year to 1.03% as of March 31, but that was still higher than the Southeast median of 0.83% and the national median of 0.64%. The state's year-over-year loan and deposit growth also trailed the Southeast and U.S. medians.
Atlanta-based Fidelity Bank, Georgia's largest community bank by assets, lagged the broader industry in all six major metrics examined. The company's ROAE plummeted by nearly half year over year in the first quarter, largely due to a decrease in noninterest income, according to parent company Fidelity Southern Corp.'s first-quarter Form 10-Q. In December 2018, Fidelity Southern agreed to be acquired by Moultrie, Ga.-based Ameris Bancorp for $756.8 million, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The deal is expected to close by July 1.
M&A activity has slowed year-to-date through June 20 in Georgia. As of then, only three whole-company or minority deals had been announced with a Georgia-based bank or thrift target, compared to 12 in 2018. However, BB&T Corp.'s colossal $28.28 billion merger with Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc., announced Feb. 7, is the 8th-largest U.S. bank deal of all time.
Georgia's banks and thrifts are cutting branches as more banking transitions online. During the first quarter, 32 bank and thrift branches were closed in Georgia, while only seven were opened. Over the last 12 months to March 31, 86 branches had closed and 45 had opened.
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Click here for a spreadsheet containing results for all Georgia banks in the first quarter of 2019.
Click here for a recap of first-quarter performance for California community banks and here for Florida banks.