Bank of Hawaii Corp., encouraged that the state’s economy is recovering faster than anticipated from the COVID-19 pandemic, released $14.3 million from its loan-loss reserve to help boost its net income 72.6% in a first quarter that produced records for earnings, earnings per share, deposits and assets.
“Credit risk remains stable, expense management adjusted for one-time items was strong, capital and liquidity are growing,” Bank of Hawaii Chairman, President and CEO Peter Ho said today on the company’s earnings conference call. “In short, we continue to weather conditions well and are positioned to grow nicely as the economy allows.”
Bankoh, which bases its financial models on the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization forecasts, is heartened by the economists’ upward revisions for tourism, unemployment, personal income and gross domestic product, as well as the state’s increasing vaccination rates.
“The experience we’re having to-date is indicating a strong trend of the visitor industry, and anecdotally when you speak to people in the industry, the hotels and the airlines, there’s a good amount of optimism — for the summer of this year being pretty strong and most of that is as you would imagine being driven by U.S. domestic,” Ho said on the call.
Bankoh’s first-quarter net income rose to $59.9 million, a record for any quarter, with an all-time high earnings per share of $1.50. That easily beats analysts’ estimates of $1.15 a share. The infusion from the bank’s loan-loss reserve was a turnaround from the year-earlier quarter when the bank put $15.2 million into its reserve. The state’s second-largest bank had its earnings strained last year when it set aside $117.8 million for potential loan losses.
In the year-earlier quarter, Bankoh had net income of $34.7 million, or 87 cents a share.
The bank also hit a record high for deposits of $19.56 billion, up 21.8% from the year-earlier quarter and up 7.4% from the December quarter. Assets, up 18.4% from a year ago, rose for the sixth quarter in a row to hit a record $21.95 billion.
Loans continued tracking in the mid single-digit range and rose 6.9% to $12.14 billion. The bank said as of April 22 that customer loan balances on deferral were down 85% from their peak to 2.3% of total loans. Bankoh said its return to payment performance has been strong with less than 1% of those customers delinquent 30 days or more at the end of the quarter.
Ho said the bank continues to invest in digital banking and that infrastructure investment into its overall information technology platform this year will be about $47 million. In the first quarter the bank rolled out contactless debit cards to its customers with television commercials that showcased the product to MC Hammer’s catchy tune, “U Can’t Touch This.” The rollout cost Bankoh $1.9 million.
“Contactless cards is a very popular product right now for, I think, obvious reasons with our consumers, and we made the decision to thankfully bite the bullet and … swallow the entire rollout in a single quarter,” Ho said. “So we think that’s the right decision. We think that’s the right customer outcome for our customers and the feedback we’re getting so far on the rollout has been very positive.”
Bankoh also recently introduced live chat into its mobile platform, which gives the bank the ability to interact with its customers digitally in person, via the phone, and now through live chat.
“The primary focus for us is the customer experience,” Ho said. “For those of us that live here in the 21st century, we know that digital is an increasing component of customer experience. We think digitally in terms of providing online and mobile banking services. So basically being able to support and service our customers in a digital format. And then secondarily, in terms of being able to provide products and services to our customers through our e-commerce platforms.”
The bank’s revenue, which is comprised of net interest income and noninterest income, fell 5% to $163.5 million to miss analysts’ estimates of $164.7 million.
Bankoh kept its dividend at 67 cents a share. It will be payable June 14 to shareholders of record at the close of business May 28.
Shares of the company fell $1.10, or 1.2%, to $89.83 after the earnings were announced.