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Promising profits for Marine Bank

STORY BY EILEEN KELLEY (Week of October 31, 2013)

For the third straight quarter, Marine Bank & Trust Company has turned a profit, possibly signifying that the days of operating under intense federal scrutiny will soon be behind it.

“Things have definitely turned around,” said Bill Penney, president and chief executive officer of the island’s only community bank.

That’s an understatement.

In this year’s first quarter, the bank posted a $61,000 profit – the first time in years that the bank had been in the black. Third quarter fillings just released late last week say Marine Bank posted a $242,000 profit, compared to a loss of $175,000 in the same period last year.

Penney credited the improved economy, housing market and demand for goods and services with all playing a part in helping Marine.

“Things are really moving up especially for the barrier island,” said Penney.

Small community banks such as Marine Bank & Trust have been under intense scrutiny by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation since the banking crisis of 2008. About 40 percent of all community banks in Florida were on a federal watch list last year.

Penney said the bank’s past financial problems were a mirror image of economic tailspin when the housing market collapsed.

“At the end of this, we can see that we are a reflection of the economy,” he said. “And our performance now is a reflection of the local economy from what we see.”

According to its third-quarter earnings report, Marine Bank listed assets at $138 million compared to $134 million at this time last year. The bank also reported a decrease in non-performing assets of more than $1.7 million compared to September 2012. Non-performing assets in the third quarter were $1.6 million or 1.16 percent of total assets compared to $4.3 million or 2.46 percent of total assets in the third quarter in 2012.

This reduction was, Penney said, was the result of a focus on the sale of bank-owned properties as well as the bank working with borrowers to sell properties before foreclosure.

Last year, following lengthy hearings with the FDIC in early 2012, Marine Bank was given marching orders to continue reducing its portfolio of non-performing assets – bad loans – and increase capital or face the possibility of being forced to merge with another bank or be sold. The bank is in the midst of a massive capital campaign that Penney feels certain will reach its goal.

“We are in compliance with the order except for the capital, on which we are close – very, very close,” said Penney.