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Fulton beats estimates, undertakes another stock repurchase

Fulton Financial Corp. beat analyst estimates for its first-quarter earnings per share by 2 cents.

The Lancaster-based bank holding company for Fulton Bank and a number of other Mid-Atlantic subsidiary banks announced quarterly earnings of 22 cents per diluted share, while analysts pegged the earnings at 20 cents, according to Yahoo Finance.

While that beat analyst estimates, it was flat compared to the first quarter of 2014. It was up from 21 cents in 2014’s fourth quarter.

Net interest income dropped 4.2 percent from $41.8 million in 2014’s first quarter to $40 million in the first quarter of this year. It was up about 5.5 percent from $37.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The company said it saw expenses rise, despite its initiation of a number of cost-saving measures. That included consolidating nine bank branches, including two in York County.

While noninterest expense rose about 8.1 percent, from $109.6 million to $118.5 million, the company said it expects to realize about $6.5 million annually in savings from the cost-cutting initiatives.

The company also said it will partake in another stock repurchase program, this time to the tune of $50 million.

The company said it recently completed its $100 million stock repurchase on April 17. That allowed the company to buy back about 8.3 million shares — about 4.6 percent of the company’s outstanding shares — at a price of $12.05.

The latest buy-back will equate to about 2.3 percent of the company’s outstanding shares.

This will be the sixth share repurchase program in the last three years.

Fulton ended the quarter with about $17.4 billion in assets, up about 2.7 percent from the first quarter of 2014. It is the second-largest bank holding company by assets based in the midstate and trades its stock on the NASDAQ exchange at FULT.

Michael Sadowski

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