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Bank of Hawaii shuffles branches; earnings fall 27.2% in 4th quarter

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Bank of Hawaii Corp. unveiled major changes across its branch network today as it ended a pandemic-plagued year with record highs for assets and deposits.

The state’s second-largest bank also showed solid loan growth but missed analysts’ fourth-quarter earnings and revenue estimates. Bank of Hawaii put an additional $15.2 million into its loan-loss reserve during the final three months to bring its full-year total to $117.8 million. The bank has reduced the amount it has put into its reserve for the last two quarters amid signs that the state’s economy is slowly recovering.

“Bank of Hawaii finished 2020 with solid financial performance despite the many challenges we faced during the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bankoh Chairman, President and CEO Peter Ho said in a statement. “During the year our disciplined approach to expense management allowed us to continue making significant progress on our strategic initiatives which position us well for continued growth in the future.”

Ho acknowledged, though, that the bank sees the economy recovering slowly.

“It’s clear and it’s well documented that Hawaii is lagging the rest of the country a bit by unemployment and, near term, recovering prospects,” he said on an earnings conference call. “It’s just going to take us a bit to spool up here. So I think that plays a bit into our provisioning and therefore reserve holds. It’s important to note the trajectory of our provisioning. So we’re down pretty smartly from the prior quarter (when the bank reserved $28.6 million). Still, $15 million, is a good amount of change. But as we look forward, I think, there’s the potential and there’s the opportunity for that continuation of trajectory, if you will, and barring any other crazy unforeseen things happening.”

Bankoh’s fourth-quarter net income fell 27.2% to $42.3 million, or $1.06 a share, to miss analysts’ consensus estimate of $1.11 a share. A year earlier, the bank earned $58.1 million, or $1.45 a share. Revenue fell 4% to $164.8 million, shy of analysts’ estimate of $171.6 million.

Deposits jumped 15.4% from the year-earlier period to an all-time high of $18.21 billion while loans increased 8.6% to $11.94 billion. Assets rose 13.9% to a record $20.6 billion.

For the year, Bankoh earned $153.8 million, or $3.86 a share, compared with $225.9 million, or $5.56 a share, in 2019.

Bankoh Chief Risk Officer Mary Sellers said the majority of the bank’s deferrals began to return to normal payment schedules in the fourth quarter and that as of Jan. 21 customer loan balances on payment deferrals totaled $428 million, or 3.6% of total loans. That was down from $1.5 billion, or 13% of total loans, at the end of the third quarter.

Bankoh said it will reopen six additional branches across the state as part of the next phase of its “Branch of Tomorrow” initiative. The branches include Hanapepe and Kapaa on Kauai and four grocery store locations. In addition to Maui Lani Branch at Safeway, which reopened today, Beretania and Ewa Beach branches at Safeway on Oahu, and Puainako Branch at KTA Super Store on Hawaii Island all will reopen Feb. 22.

The bank said its “Branch of Tomorrow” format gives customers an open, flexible floor plan to discuss advanced banking needs and digital conveniences, such as easy-deposit ATMs with Cardless Cash and free Wi-Fi.

Bankoh said it has three new “Branch of Tomorrow” projects underway.

The new Mililani branch is scheduled to open in mid-March and will be the product of the consolidation of three branches — the Safeway Mililani, Times Supermarket Mililani and the Mililani branch in Mililani Shopping Center. The branch in the shopping center is currently open and will close one business day before the new Mililani branch opens.

The Waialae-Kahala branch is currently under construction and being completely rebuilt in the same space with the grand opening set for the end of April.

A new Hilo Branch scheduled to open in the fourth quarter.

In addition, Bankoh is opening a fourth branch this year. It will be an in-store branch that is due to open in late April or early May when construction of a new branch at the Safeway in Kona is complete.

The bank also said its 12 remaining in-store branches will remain permanently closed. The closures will result in a one-time cost of $6.1 million but produce $5.1 million in annual savings. Bankoh cited a dramatic change in customer behavior with in-person branch transactions declining substantially from pre-COVID levels while digital banking has proliferated. It said a growing shift toward mobile and online platforms, card usage, and digital payment options have been accelerated by the pandemic.

“As an essential business, we’re fully committed to serving our community and proactively responding to customers’ evolving needs through a variety of options and under a variety of circumstances,” Ho said.

Branches that will remain closed are: Hawaii island — Hilo branch at Safeway; Kauai — Lihue branch at Safeway; Maui — the Kahului and Piilani branches at Safeway; Oahu — the Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kaneohe, Kapahulu, Kapolei and Mililani branches at Safeway; the Kamehameha and Mililani branches at Times Supermarket.

In November, the bank announced it was investing $5 million in a 10-year sponsorship to University of Hawaii athletics that includes the renaming of the arena to “SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. The bank also established a $100,000 endowment scholarship fund in the name of Stan Sheriff. SimpliFi by Bank of Hawaii is the bank’s simple online lending program.

Bankoh maintained its quarterly dividend at 67 cents a share. It will be payable March 12 to shareholders of record at the close of business Feb. 26.

Shares of the company fell $2.49, or 3%, to $81.62 after the earnings were announced.

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