Merchants Financial Group, Inc Announces Earnings of $8.93 Million through Second Quarter of 2019

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced robust business growth and year-to-date net income of $8.93 million through the end of the second quarter, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

Year-over-year loan growth for the Winona-based Company was $111.3 million (8.2%) and deposit growth was a healthy $95.8 million (6.9%)

“As usual our strong performance during the first half of the year has resulted from a total team effort, with meaningful contributions coming from business growth throughout our footprint,” said Evans. “I’m tremendously proud of our entire banking team. We continue to experience strong organic growth because of bankers who stand out as difference makers in a very competitive environment.”

Net income is ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2019 by $1.1 million, but just slightly behind last year’s earnings pace by $206,944. One impact on year-over-year earnings was a necessary contribution of an additional $543,000 in loan loss reserve put aside to cushion against possible future loan stress. Contributing to the overall positive performance, three of the Bank’s four regions and Secondary Market Mortgage operation exceeded their respective income forecasts through the first six months of 2019.

“It’s our privilege to help so many individuals and families achieve their dream of home ownership,” noted Evans. “Many customers have also benefitted from the current low rate environment and reduced their mortgage payments by refinancing.”

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.76 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Merchants Bank to Acquire The First National Bank of Northfield

Greg Evans, Merchants Bank President & CEO and David Shumway. First National Bank of Northfield CEO

Merchants Bank and The First National Bank of Northfield have reached a definitive agreement for Merchants to acquire the Northfield banking institution, according to Gregory M. Evans, President & CEO of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. and Merchants Bank, N.A. The agreement is subject to regulatory agency approval, but it is fully expected that the deal will close before year-end 2019.

Hear Greg Evans & Rick Etsenson of First National discuss the agreement on the KYMN Morning Show with Jeff Johnson.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to be joining the Northfield community and continuing The First National Bank’s tradition of high quality customer service and community involvement,” said Evans. “We are also humbled by the stewardship responsibility that comes with ensuring First National’s legacy with its customers and in the community will continue to be nurtured and never forgotten.”

Both First National Bank and Merchants Bank have rich histories of service in their respective communities in southeastern Minnesota. First National was chartered in Northfield in 1873, and Merchants’ history began in Winona in 1875.

“There are tremendous challenges today for smaller community banks, so we made the strategic decision to find the right partner to provide broader financial services and technology tools that will be expected by our customers well into the future,” said David Shumway, CEO for The First National Bank of Northfield. “We know Merchants is the right partner, and our due diligence identified Merchants as an organization absolute in its commitment to shared values of community leadership and strong service culture.”

The First National Bank of Northfield has $207 million in assets, $157 million in loans (plus an additional $60 million in sold loan participations) and $183 million in deposits. Internationally recognized as the bank that defeated Jesse James in 1876, First National Bank operates out of two branches in Northfield and a loan production office in Minneapolis.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. will acquire all of the outstanding stock of The First National Bank of Northfield in an all cash transaction. The amount of the sale was not disclosed.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank is the fifth-largest banking organization headquartered in the state of Minnesota with more than $1.76 billion in assets.

Shareholder Story: Karen Hawkinson on behalf of Francis Zeches

ShareholderStories-KarenHawkinson

Francis (center) pictured with his children and their spouses.

We are proud to be locally owned. At our Annual Shareholder meeting this year, we asked our shareholders how they became part of the Merchants family.

Karen shares her story:

“My story with Merchants Bank is really my dad’s story that has been passed on to me.  It is a story that started a very long time ago.  Since he is no longer here to share it, I will do my best to tell it on his behalf.

A life long businessman in Winona, there were times in building his business that my dad needed loans.  When another Winona bank at which he had always banked did not grant his request, he went to Merchants Bank and there he found willing partners.  It was the beginning of a very long relationship built on trust and mutual respect.  A friendship developed with long ago Bank President Gil Grabow.  After a round of golf in early June 1967, he convinced my father to purchase Merchants stock.  My dad became a ready stockholder and never looked back.  Over the years you could not find a more ardent supporter of the bank or a prouder stockholder.  On two separate occasions, he gifted my husband and me with some of his Merchants stock.  There was always a caveat with that gift –“don’t ever sell this stock without talking to me first”.  Needless to say, we didn’t sell that stock because we understood that its value was much greater than the stated book value.

My dad continued to invest and the bank stock continued to grow, splitting several times over the course of his ownership.  As he neared the end of his life and was carefully planning his trust, he derived great pleasure in knowing he would be passing on stock in such a fine institution to my brother and me.  My dad was a proud Minnesotan, and even prouder member of the Winona community, so it is no surprise that he took it quite personally that the very successful bank in which he had invested, had its origin in his hometown.

My Merchants stock represents so much more than the gift of a wise investment.  While I enthusiastically welcome the growing dividends, it is an investment, that like my dad, I take quite personally. His advice to “never sell that stock”still resonates in my mind.  The bank and its stock –represent all that my dad found important in life –good value, a solid business plan, relationships built on trust and mutual respect and a sense of community pride.  Being a stockholder allows me to still be a part of the community in which I was raised and to share in the continued richness of that environment.”

-Karen Hawkinson, the daughter of Francis Zeches.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Reports Year to Shareholders and Appoints Directors to Its Board

Greg Evans, President & CEO
During its annual meeting on Thursday, April 4, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) reported strong 2018 financial results, Shareholders re-elected two Directors and elected one new Director to the MFGI Board.

MFGI formally reported net income of $18,887,308 for 2018. Pre-tax earnings were up 11.9% as compared to 2017. There was business growth on both sides of the Company’s balance sheet with year-end 2018 total deposits of $1.435 billion and total loans/leases of $1.424 billion. MFGI ended 2018 with $1.756 billion in consolidated assets, making Merchants the fifth largest banking organization chartered in the state of Minnesota.

“Our Board of Directors helps ensure the Merchants organization stays true to our community banking roots while continuing to provide value to our shareholders. Their guidance, along with the hard work of our employees and the support of our customers and the communities we serve, is what helps us achieve steady business growth and consistently strong earnings performance year after year,” said Gregory M. Evans, MFGI President & Chief Executive Officer.

Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were: Scott K. Biesanz, Chairman of Goodson Manufacturing Company and James A. Trenda, Founder/Owner/President of CP Advisors, LLC. Elected as a new member of the Board of Directors to a three-year term was John H. Killen, President/CEO of Wincraft, Inc,. Killen has served on the Merchants Bank, N.A., Charter Board since April of 2018.

At the meeting retiring MFGI Director Mike Cunningham was recognized for more than 10 years of service. Mike Cunningham, Partner of La Crescent Property Ventures, LLC and Former CEO/Owner of The Board Store Furniture and Home Improvements, will continue to serve on the Merchants Bank Charter Board and the Bank’s Local Advisory Boards for Onalaska/LaCrescent.

Featured speakers during the meeting included Evans; Susan M. Savat, Chief Financial Officer; Wendy Cagle, Loan Review Officer; and Andrew Guzzo Regional President for Winona and the Southern half of the Company’s service footprint.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.75 billion in assets and was founded in 1875.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Announces Earnings of $18,887,308 for 2018

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced year-end earnings for 2018 with net income of $18,887,308, according to MFGI President & CEO, Gregory M. Evans.

The earnings exceeded MFGI’s plan for the year by more than $3 million. Merchants benefitted from corporate tax reform throughout 2018, which contributed to performance results. Evans noted that on a pre-tax basis, MFGI increased earnings by 12% from 2017 to $25,237,358.

“All areas of the organization contributed to help us surpass our planned income for the year with three of our four Bank Regions exceeding their income targets and strong performance from our leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, and our Secondary Market Mortgage operation,” said Evans.

Core earnings for 2018 were also bolstered by commercial loan and deposit growth, and intense credit risk monitoring and mitigation, which resulted in a year-over-year reduction in the Allowance for Loan/Lease Loss Reserve contributions. Evans credits MFGI’s strategic diversification of business segments, product offerings and markets for the steady business and earnings growth Merchants consistently achieves.

“The Merchants team is truly special and I’m proud to share our team’s success over the last year,” said Evans. “We look forward to continuing to improve the lives of our customers through the caring and advising approach to financial services they deserve.”

MFGI’s net income was $20,878,465 for 2017, which included an accounting adjustment of more than $6.5 million as a result of the reduction of a deferred tax liability associated with the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017. Net income was $14,154,891 for 2016.

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.

Merchants Financial Group is a publicly traded Company. Ownership is made up of its more than 440 employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Announces Earnings of $13,785,285 through Third Quarter of 2018, Pays 70 Cents Per Share Dividend

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced a net income of $13,785,285 through the first three quarters of 2018 and significantly increased the semiannual dividend paid to Shareholders, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“Our core earnings continue to be strong, which in the end benefits all of our customers, the communities we serve and our Shareholders,” said Evans. “We are proud to be a safe, strong bank with growth that allows us to contribute to the economic vitality of this specific region, where all of our resource deployment is focused.”

Net income is $3.1 million ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2018 and is an increase of $4.94 million compared to last year. Several Merchants Bank locations and the Merchants Bank Equipment Finance and Mortgage Operations divisions exceeded their respective performance forecasts through three quarters.

During its October meeting, the MFGI Board of Directors approved a dividend of 70 cents per share to shareholders, up from 61 cents per share for the first half of the year. The semiannual dividends paid to Merchants’ Shareholders for 2018 is an increase of 18% compared to a year ago.

“As is always the case, our strong performance has been the result of a total team effort. I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together and am optimistic about our performance for the remainder of the year,” said Evans.

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.

Merchants Financial Group is a publicly-traded Company. Ownership is made up of its more than 440 employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Announces Earnings of Nearly $3.95 Million Through the First Quarter of 2018

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced net income of $3,949,425 through the first quarter of 2018, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“It has been a very good start to the year thanks to the work of our employees across our locations,” Evans said. Net income for the first quarter was more than $1.8 million ahead of last year.

In acknowledgment of the performance, the MFGI Board of Directors authorized an 8.9% stockholder dividend increase from 56 cents per share to 61 cents per share.

“We had strong and consistent contributions throughout our company. Each of our four Bank regions was ahead of its plan for the year, as were our leasing division and our secondary market mortgage operation. We have experienced year-over-year deposit and loan growth, and we have focused on credit quality,” Evans said. “I am optimistic about the remainder of the year.”

Year-over-year deposit growth was $57.2 million, and year-over-year loan growth was $49.9 million. Mortgage loan volume for the first quarter was $75 million, exceeding the Company’s forecast by $5 million for the quarter. In addition to providing mortgage services for its locations, Merchants also provides correspondent mortgage banking services to more than 62 bank charters with 130 locations across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.

MFGI has recorded three consecutive years of record net income. Net income in 2017 was $20,878,465, including $14,297,105 in core earnings, a record on its own, and a $6.5 million accounting adjustment as a result of the reduction of a deferred tax liability, necessitated by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, divided into four Bank regions, 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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. 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.