Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $2,090,085 through the first quarter of 2017, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.
“Our core earnings continue to be strong and remain on target,” Evans said. “I am optimistic about our continued growth.”
During its April meeting the MFGI Board of Directors approved a semiannual dividend of 56 cents per share to shareholders. Last year, the MFGI Board raised the dividend twice from 53 cents to 55 cents per share and then from 55 cents to 56 cents per share.
Evans said net income is slightly behind MFGI’s plan for the first quarter and behind 2016’s pace, when MFGI celebrated record earnings. He said first quarter earnings were augmented by an additional $1.1 million in loan loss reserve put aside to cushion against possible future loan stress.
“This precautionary action is prudent and consistent with conservative banking principles that have served us so well over the years. The loans for which we added the reserves remain active, and we believe that over time the outcomes will be positive,” Evans said.
Evans noted that MFGI stock is continuing to trade at or near record prices. At the end of the first quarter, stock was trading at $59.50 per share, up from $45.01 a year ago and $54.40 at the end of 2016.
“My expectation and the expectation of the MFGI Board is that we will continue to build on the success model we have put in place,” Evans said.
MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.
The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.