Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16. Form 10-K Summary
Farmers & Merchants Bancorp Earnings 2018-12-31
FMCB 10K Annual Report
10-K 1 form10k.htm 10-K
UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _________ to __________.
Commission File Number: 000-26099
FARMERS & MERCHANTS BANCORP
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
111 W. Pine Street, Lodi, California
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (209) 367-2300
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: None
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: Common Stock, $0.01 Par Value Per Share
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports); and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ☐
Accelerated filer ☒
Non-accelerated filer ☐
Smaller reporting company ☐
Emerging growth company ☐
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act) Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the Registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates on June 30, 2018 (based on the last reported trade on June 30, 2018) was $584,604,000.
The number of shares of Common Stock outstanding as of February 28, 2019: 783,721
Documents Incorporated by Reference:
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement for the 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A are incorporated by reference in Part III, Items 10 through 14.
This Form 10-K contains various forward-looking statements, usually containing the words “estimate,” “project,” “expect,” “objective,” “goal,” or similar expressions and includes assumptions concerning Farmers & Merchants Bancorp’s (together with its subsidiaries, the “Company” or “we”) operations, future results, and prospects. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties. In connection with the “safe-harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Company provides the following cautionary statement identifying important factors which could cause the actual results of events to differ materially from those set forth in or implied by the forward-looking statements and related assumptions.
Such factors include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) economic conditions in the Central Valley of California; (2) significant changes in interest rates and loan prepayment speeds; (3) credit risks of lending and investment activities; (4) changes in federal and state banking laws or regulations; (5) competitive pressure in the banking industry; (6) changes in governmental fiscal or monetary policies; (7) uncertainty regarding the economic outlook resulting from the continuing war on terrorism, as well as actions taken or to be taken by the U.S. or other governments as a result of further acts or threats of terrorism; (8) water management issues in California and the resulting impact on the Company’s agricultural customers; (9) expansion into new geographic markets and new lines of business; and (10) other factors discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors.
Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements which speak only as of the date hereof. The Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after the date on which they are made.
General Development of the Business
August 1, 1916, marked the first day of business for Farmers & Merchants Bank (the “Bank”). The Bank was incorporated under the laws of the State of California and licensed as a state-chartered bank. Farmers & Merchants’ first venture out of Lodi occurred when the Galt office opened in 1948. Since then the Bank has opened full-service branches in Linden, Manteca, Riverbank, Modesto, Sacramento, Elk Grove, Turlock, Hilmar, Stockton, Merced, Walnut Creek and Concord.
During 2016, the Company completed the acquisition of Delta National Bancorp, the parent company of Delta Bank, N.A., headquartered in Manteca, California. This enabled the Company to expand its presence in to both Manteca and Riverbank.
During 2018, the Company completed the acquisition of Bank of Rio Vista., headquartered in Rio Vista, California. This provided the Company entry into both Rio Vista and Walnut Grove, enhancing the Bank’s market share in Lodi.
In January 2018, the Company opened a loan production office (“LPO”) in Napa, California, which was converted to a full service branch in the third quarter of 2018.
In addition to 29 full-service branches, the Bank serves the needs of its customers through two stand-alone ATMs located on the grounds of the Lodi Grape Festival and in the Trilogy Residential Community clubhouse in Rio Vista. In 2007, the Bank began offering certain banking products over the internet at www.fmbonline.com.
On March 10, 1999, the Company, pursuant to a reorganization, acquired all of the voting stock of the Bank. The Company is a bank holding company incorporated in the State of Delaware and registered under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended. The Company’s outstanding securities as of December 31, 2018, consisted of 783,721 shares of common stock, $0.01 par value and no shares of preferred stock issued. The Bank is the Company’s principal asset.
The Bank’s two wholly owned subsidiaries are Farmers & Merchants Investment Corporation and Farmers/Merchants Corp. Farmers & Merchants Investment Corporation is currently dormant and Farmers/Merchants Corp. acts as trustee on deeds of trust originated by the Bank.
F & M Bancorp, Inc. was created in March 2002 to protect the name “F & M Bank.” During 2002, the Company completed a fictitious name filing in California to begin using the streamlined name, “F & M Bank,” as part of a larger effort to enhance the Company’s image and build brand name recognition. Since 2002, the Company has converted all of its daily operating and image advertising to the “F & M Bank” name and the Company’s logo, slogan and signage were redesigned to incorporate the trade name, “F & M Bank.”
During 2003, the Company formed a wholly owned Connecticut statutory business trust, FMCB Statutory Trust I, for the sole purpose of issuing trust-preferred securities. See Note 13, located in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”
The Company’s principal business is to serve as a holding company for the Bank and for other banking or banking related subsidiaries, which the Company may establish or acquire. As a legal entity separate and distinct from its subsidiary, the Company’s principal source of funds is, and will continue to be, dividends paid by and other funds received from the Bank. Legal limitations are imposed on the amount of dividends that may be paid and loans that may be made by the Bank to the Company. See “Supervision and Regulation - Dividends and Other Transfer of Funds.”
The Bank’s deposit accounts are insured under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act up to applicable limits. See “Supervision and Regulation – Deposit Insurance.”
As a bank holding company, the Company is subject to regulation and examination by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“FRB”). The Bank is a California state-chartered non-FRB member bank subject to the regulation and examination of the California Department of Business Oversight (“DBO”) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”).
Acquisition of Bank of Rio Vista (“BRV”)
On April 5, 2017, the Company purchased 196 BRV common shares or 4.9% of the common shares outstanding. On July 12, 2017 the Company purchased an additional 1,382 common shares, representing in aggregate 39.45% of BRV’s 4,000 common shares outstanding. In addition, between October, 2017 and March 26, 2018 the Company purchased another 8 BRV common shares bringing our total to 39.65% of BRV’s common shares outstanding. Despite the significant investment in BRV, this initial investment was accounted for under the cost method rather than the equity method because control of BRV remained with a family group through their ownership of a substantial portion of the remaining shares.
On March 26, 2018, BRV and the Company entered into a definitive agreement for the acquisition of BRV’s remaining shares not already owned by the Company. Because of the definitive agreement, the Company began accounting for this investment under the equity method—retroactive to January 1, 2018 (the beginning of the quarter in which the definitive agreement was signed). Subsequent to January 1, 2018, the Company recorded its portion of BRV’s income (loss) as in increase (decrease) in the carrying value of its investment in BRV and dividends received were recorded as a reduction in the carrying value of the investment. Note that under ASU 2016-07, retroactive restatement of prior periods under which the cost method was used is no longer required.
The transaction to acquire the remaining shares of BRV closed on October 10, 2018. Under the terms of the definitive agreement, BRV shareholders received $11,900 per share in cash for the remaining 60.35% of BRV’s shares outstanding. The transaction value for the remaining shares of common stock, not owned by the Company, was approximately $28.73 million, resulting in a total purchase price of $40.73 million. The Company engaged in this transaction with the expectation that it would be accretive to income and add a new market area with a demographic profile consistent with many of the current Central Valley markets served by the Company. Goodwill resulted from this transaction due to the expected synergies and economies of scale.
For additional information on the acquisition, see Note 2, located in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”
Since 2014, the Company has broadened its geographic footprint by opening offices in Walnut Creek, Concord and Napa. The Company continues to look for opportunities to further expand its branch network in the East Bay area of San Francisco.
At the present time, the Company’s primary service area remains the mid Central Valley of California, including Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, where we operate 26 full-service branches and 2 stand-alone ATMs. This area encompasses:
Sacramento Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”), with branches in Sacramento, Elk Grove and Galt. This MSA has a Population of 2.35 million and a Per Capita Income of approximately $55,300. The MSA includes significant employment in the following sectors: state and local government; agriculture; and trade, transportation and utilities. Unemployment currently stands at 3.7%.
Stockton MSA, with branches in Lodi, Linden, Stockton, and Manteca. This MSA has a Population of 0.76 million and a Per Capita Income of approximately $44,200. The MSA includes significant employment in the following sectors: state and local government; agriculture; trade, transportation, and utilities; and education and health services. Unemployment currently stands at 6.0%.
Modesto MSA, with branches in Modesto, Riverbank and Turlock. This MSA has a Population of 0.55 million and a Per Capita Income of approximately $44,500. The MSA includes significant employment in the following sectors: agriculture; trade, transportation and utilities; state and local government; and education and health services. Unemployment currently stands at 6.3%.
Merced MSA with branches in Hilmar and Merced. This MSA has a Population of 0.28 million and a Per Capita Income of approximately $40,500. The MSA includes significant employment in the following sectors: agriculture; state and local government; and trade, transportation and utilities. Unemployment currently stands at 8.1%.
All of the Company’s Central Valley service areas are heavily influenced by the agricultural industry, however, with the exception of the State of California in the Sacramento MSA, no single employer represents a material concentration of jobs in any of our service areas.
See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Overview” and “Financial Condition – Loans & Leases” for additional discussion regarding the Company’s market conditions.
Through its network of banking offices, the Company emphasizes personalized service along with a broad range of banking services to businesses and individuals located in the service areas of its offices. Although the Company focuses on marketing its services to small and medium sized businesses, a broad range of retail banking services are made available to the local consumer market.
The Company offers a wide range of deposit instruments. These include checking, savings, money market, time certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts and online banking services for both business and personal accounts.
The Company provides a broad complement of lending products, including commercial, commercial real estate, real estate construction, agribusiness, consumer, credit card, residential real estate loans, and equipment leases. Commercial products include term loans, leases, lines of credit and other working capital financing and letters of credit. Financing products for individuals include automobile financing, lines of credit, residential real estate, home improvement and home equity lines of credit.
The Company also offers a wide range of specialized services designed for the needs of its commercial accounts. These services include a credit card program for merchants, lockbox and other collection services, account reconciliation, investment sweep, on-line account access, and electronic funds transfers by way of domestic and international wire and automated clearinghouse.
The Company makes investment products available to customers, including mutual funds and annuities. These investment products are offered through a third party, which employs investment advisors to meet with and provide investment advice to the Company’s customers.
At December 31, 2018, the Company employed 376 full time equivalent employees. The Company believes that its employee relations are satisfactory.
The banking and financial services industry in California generally, and in the Company’s market areas specifically, is highly competitive. The increasingly competitive environment is a result primarily of changes in regulation, changes in technology and product delivery systems, and the accelerating pace of consolidation among financial service providers. The Company competes with other major commercial banks, diversified financial institutions, credit unions, savings institutions, money market and other mutual funds, mortgage companies, and a variety of other non-banking financial services and advisory companies. Federal legislation encourages competition between different types of financial service providers and has fostered new entrants into the financial services market. It is anticipated that this trend will continue. Using the financial holding company structure, insurance companies and securities firms may compete more directly with banks and bank holding companies.
Many of our competitors are much larger in total assets and capitalization, have greater access to capital markets and offer a broader range of financial services than the Company. In order to compete with other financial service providers, the Company relies upon personal contact by its officers, directors, employees, and stockholders, along with various promotional activities and specialized services. In those instances where the Company is unable to accommodate a customer’s needs, the Company may arrange for those services to be provided through its correspondents.
The Company’s profitability, like most financial institutions, is primarily dependent on interest rate differentials. The difference between the interest rates paid by the Company on interest-bearing liabilities, such as deposits and other borrowings, and the interest rates received by the Company on its interest-earning assets, such as loans & leases extended to its customers and securities held in its investment portfolio, comprise the major portion of the Company’s earnings. These rates are highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond the control of the Company and the Bank, such as inflation, recession and unemployment. The impact that changes in economic conditions might have on the Company and the Bank cannot be predicted.
The business of the Company is also influenced by the monetary and fiscal policies of the federal government and the policies of regulatory agencies, particularly the FRB. The FRB implements national monetary policies (with objectives such as curbing inflation and combating recession) through its open-market operations in U.S. Government securities by adjusting the required level of reserves for depository institutions subject to its reserve requirements, and by varying the target federal funds and discount rates applicable to borrowings by depository institutions. The actions of the FRB in these areas influence the growth of bank loans & leases, investments, and deposits and also affect interest rates earned on interest-earning assets and paid on interest-bearing liabilities. The nature and impact on the Company of any future changes in monetary and fiscal policies cannot be predicted.
From time to time, legislative acts, as well as regulations, are enacted which have the effect of increasing the cost of doing business, limiting or expanding permissible activities, or affecting the competitive balance between banks and other financial services providers. Proposals to change the laws and regulations governing the operations and taxation of banks, bank holding companies, and other financial institutions and financial services providers are frequently made in the U.S. Congress, in the state legislatures, and before various regulatory agencies. This legislation may change banking statutes and the operating environment of the Company and the Bank in substantial and unpredictable ways. If enacted, such legislation could increase or decrease the cost of doing business, limit or expand permissible activities or affect the competitive balance among banks, savings institutions, credit unions, and other financial institutions. The Company cannot predict whether any of this potential legislation will be enacted, and if enacted, the effect that it, or any implemented regulations, would have on the financial condition or results of operations of the Company or any of its subsidiaries.
Supervision and Regulation
Bank holding companies and banks are extensively regulated under both federal and state law. The regulation is intended primarily for the protection of the banking system and the deposit insurance fund and not for the benefit of stockholders of the Company. This supervisory and regulatory framework subjects banks and bank holding companies to regular examination by their respective regulatory agencies, which results in examination reports and ratings that, while not publicly available, can affect the conduct and growth of their businesses. These examinations consider not only compliance with applicable laws and regulations, but also capital levels, asset quality and risk, management ability and performance, earnings, liquidity, and various other factors. The regulatory agencies generally have broad discretion to impose restrictions and limitations on the operations of a regulated entity where the agencies determine, among other things, that such operations are unsafe or unsound, fail to comply with applicable law or are otherwise inconsistent with laws and regulations or with the supervisory policies of these agencies.
Set forth below is a summary description of the material laws and regulations, which relate to the operations of the Company and the Bank. This description does not purport to be complete and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the applicable laws and regulations.
The Company is a registered bank holding company and is subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (“BHCA”), as amended. Accordingly, the Company’s operations are subject to extensive regulation and examination by the FRB. The Company is required to file with the FRB quarterly and annual reports and such additional information as the FRB may require pursuant to the BHCA. The FRB conducts periodic examinations of the Company.
The FRB may require that the Company terminate an activity or terminate control of or liquidate or divest certain subsidiaries of affiliates when the FRB believes the activity or the control of the subsidiary or affiliate constitutes a significant risk to the financial safety, soundness or stability of any of its banking subsidiaries. The FRB also has the authority to regulate provisions of certain bank holding company debt. Under certain circumstances, the Company must file written notice and obtain approval from the FRB prior to purchasing or redeeming its equity securities.
Under the BHCA and regulations adopted by the FRB, a bank holding company and its non-banking subsidiaries are prohibited from requiring certain tie-in arrangements in connection with an extension of credit, lease or sale of property, or furnishing of services. For example, with certain exceptions, a bank may not condition an extension of credit on a promise by its customer to obtain other services provided by it, its holding company or other subsidiaries, or on a promise by its customer not to obtain other services from a competitor. In addition, federal law imposes certain restrictions on transactions between Farmers & Merchants Bancorp and its subsidiaries. Further, the Company is required by the FRB to maintain certain levels of capital. See “Capital Standards.”
The Company is prohibited by the BHCA, except in certain statutorily prescribed instances, from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the outstanding voting shares of any company that is not a bank or bank holding company and from engaging directly or indirectly in activities other than those of banking, managing or controlling banks, or furnishing services to its subsidiaries. However, the Company, subject to the prior notice and/or approval of the FRB, may engage in any, or acquire shares of companies engaged in, activities that are deemed by the FRB to be so closely related to banking or managing or controlling banks as to be a proper incident thereto.
A bank holding company is required to serve as a source of financial and managerial strength to its subsidiary banks and may not conduct its operations in an unsafe or unsound manner. In addition, it is the FRB’s policy that in serving as a source of strength to its subsidiary banks, a bank holding company should stand ready to use available resources to provide adequate capital funds to its subsidiary banks during periods of financial stress or adversity and should maintain the financial flexibility and capital-raising capacity to obtain additional resources for assisting its subsidiary banks. This support may be required at times when a bank holding company may not be able to provide such support. A bank holding company’s failure to meet its obligations to serve as a source of strength to its subsidiary banks will generally be considered by the FRB to be an unsafe and unsound banking practice or a violation of the FRB’s regulations or both.
The Company is not a financial holding company for purposes of the FRB.
The Company is also a bank holding company within the meaning of the California Financial Code. As such, the Company and its subsidiaries are subject to examination by, and may be required to file reports with, the DBO.
The Company’s securities are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). As such, the Company is subject to the reporting, proxy solicitation and other requirements and restrictions of the Exchange Act.
The Bank, as a California chartered non-FRB member bank, is subject to primary supervision, periodic examination and regulation by the DBO and the FDIC. If, as a result of an examination of the Bank, the FDIC should determine that the financial condition, capital resources, asset quality, earnings prospects, management, liquidity, or other aspects of the Bank’s operations are unsatisfactory, or that the Bank or its management is violating or has violated any law or regulation, various remedies are available to the FDIC. Such remedies include the power to enjoin “unsafe or unsound” practices, to require affirmative action to correct any conditions resulting from any violation or practice, to issue an administrative order that can be judicially enforced, to direct an increase in capital, to restrict the growth of the Bank, to assess civil monetary penalties, to remove officers and directors, and ultimately to terminate the Bank’s deposit insurance, which for a California chartered bank would result in a revocation of the Bank’s charter. The DBO has many of the same remedial powers.
Various requirements and restrictions under the laws of the State of California and the United States affect the operations of the Bank. State and federal statutes and regulations relate to many aspects of the Bank’s operations, including reserves against deposits, ownership of deposit accounts, interest rates payable on deposits, loans & leases, investments, mergers and acquisitions, borrowings, dividends, locations of branch offices, and capital requirements. Further, the Bank is required to maintain certain levels of capital. See “Capital Standards.”
The Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd Frank Act”) - The Dodd-Frank Act implemented sweeping reform across the U.S. financial regulatory framework, including, among other changes:
creating a Financial Stability Oversight Council tasked with identifying and monitoring systemic risks in the financial system;
creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), which is responsible for implementing, examining and enforcing compliance with federal consumer financial protection laws;
requiring the FDIC to make its capital requirements for insured depository institutions countercyclical, so that capital requirements increase in times of economic expansion and decrease in times of economic contraction;
imposing more stringent capital requirements on bank holding companies and subjecting certain activities, including interstate mergers and acquisitions, to heightened capital conditions;
changing the assessment base for federal deposit insurance from the amount of the insured deposits held by the depository institution to the depository institution’s average total consolidated assets less tangible equity, eliminating the ceiling on the size of the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund and increasing the floor of the size of the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund;
eliminating all remaining restrictions on interstate banking by authorizing state banks to establish de novo banking offices in any state that would permit a bank chartered in that state to open a banking office at that location;
repealing the federal prohibitions on the payment of interest on demand deposits, thereby permitting depository institutions to pay interest on business transaction and other accounts; and
in the so-called “Volcker Rule,” subject to numerous exceptions, prohibiting depository institutions and affiliates from certain investments in, and sponsorship of, hedge funds and private equity funds and from engaging in proprietary trading.
On February 3, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order calling for his administration to review existing U.S. financial laws and regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act, in order to determine their consistency with a set of “core principles” of financial policy.
President Trump recently signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (the “Economic Growth Act”), which repeals or modifies certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and eases regulations on all but the largest banks. In addition, the Economic Growth Act’s highlights also include regulatory relief for certain institutions, whereby among other things, it simplifies capital calculations by requiring regulators to adopt a threshold for a community bank leverage ratio of between 8% to 10%. Institutions under $10 billion in assets that meet such community bank leverage ratio will automatically be deemed to be well-capitalized, although regulators retain the flexibility to determine that a depository institution may not qualify for the community bank leverage ratio test based on the institution’s risk profile, and exempts community banks from Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act if they have less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets; and exempts banks with less than $10 billion in assets, and total trading assets and liabilities not exceeding more than five percent of their total assets, from the Volcker Rule restrictions on trading with their own capital. The Economic Growth Act also adds certain protections for consumers, including veterans and active duty military personnel, expanded credit freezes and creation of an identity theft protection database. The Economic Growth Act also makes changes for bank holding companies, as it raises the threshold for automatic designation as a systemically important financial institution from $50 billion to $250 billion in assets, subjects banks with $100 billion to $250 billion in total assets to periodic stress tests, exempts from stress test requirements entirely banks with under $100 billion in assets, and requires the federal banking regulators to, within 180 days of passage, raise the asset threshold under the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement from $1 billion to $3 billion. The Economic Growth Act also adds certain protections for student borrowers.
The federal bank regulatory agencies have jointly issued a notice of proposed rulemaking setting forth the proposals for the shortened call reports. The proposed rule also describes which depository institutions may take advantage of the shortened call reports. The proposal would reduce the data items required to be reported in the first and third quarters by approximately 37% and would go into effect for the call report to be filed for the quarter ending March 31, 2019. Assuming the proposed rule is enacted in substantially the same form as the proposed rule, this would decrease the reporting obligations for the Bank in its first and third quarter call reports.
Many aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act are subject to rulemaking and will take effect over several years, making it difficult to anticipate the overall financial impact on us. In addition, the Economic Growth Act modifies several provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act, but are subject to implementing regulations. Although the reforms primarily target systemically important financial service providers (which the Bank is not, the Dodd-Frank Act’s influence has and is expected to continue to filter down in varying degrees to smaller institutions over time. We will continue to evaluate the effect of the Dodd-Frank Act; however, in many respects, the ultimate impact of the Dodd-Frank Act will not be fully known for years, and no current assurance may be given that the Dodd-Frank Act, or any other new legislative changes, will not have a negative impact on the results of operations and financial condition of the Company and the Bank.
The federal banking agencies have risk-based capital adequacy guidelines intended to provide a measure of capital adequacy that reflects the degree of risk associated with a banking organization’s operations, both for transactions reported on the balance sheet as assets and for transactions, such as letters of credit and recourse arrangements, that are recorded as off-balance sheet items. In 2013, the FRB, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued final rules (the “Basel III Capital Rules”) establishing a new comprehensive capital framework for U.S. banking organizations. The rules implement the Basel Committee’s December 2010 framework, commonly referred to as Basel III, for strengthening international capital standards, as well as implementing certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.
The Basel III Capital Rules became effective for the Company and the Bank on January 1, 2015 (subject to phase-in periods for some of their components). The Basel III Capital Rules: (i) introduce a new capital measure called Common Equity Tier 1 (“CET1”), and a related regulatory capital ratio of CET1 to risk-weighted assets; (ii) specify that Tier 1 capital consists of CET1 and “Additional Tier 1 capital” instruments, which are instruments treated as Tier 1 instruments under the prior capital rules that meet certain revised requirements; (iii) mandate that most deductions or adjustments to regulatory capital measures be made to CET1 and not to the other components of capital; and (iv) expand the scope of the deductions from and adjustments to capital, as compared to existing regulations. Under the Basel III Capital Rules, for most banking organizations, the most common form of additional Tier 1 capital is noncumulative perpetual preferred stock and the most common form of Tier 2 capital is subordinated notes and a portion of the allowance for loan and lease losses, in each case, subject to the Basel III Capital Rules’ specific requirements.
Under the Basel III Capital Rules, the following are the initial minimum capital ratios applicable to the Company and the Bank:
4.0% Tier 1 leverage ratio;
4.5% CET1 to risk-weighted assets;
6.0% Tier 1 capital (that is, CET1 plus Additional Tier 1 capital) to risk-weighted assets; and
8.0% total capital (that is, Tier 1 capital plus Tier 2 capital) to risk-weighted assets.
The Basel III Capital Rules also introduced a “capital conservation buffer,” composed entirely of CET1, on top of these minimum risk-weighted asset ratios. The capital conservation buffer is designed to absorb losses during periods of economic stress. Banking institutions with a ratio of CET1 to risk-weighted assets above the minimum but below the capital conservation buffer will face constraints on dividends, equity repurchases and compensation based on the amount of the shortfall. The implementation of the capital conservation buffer began on January 1, 2016 and was phased in over a three-year period (increasing by that amount on each subsequent January 1, until it reached 2.5% on January 1, 2019). The Company and the Bank must now maintain the following minimum capital ratios:
4.0% Tier 1 leverage ratio;
4.5% CET1 to risk-weighted assets, plus the capital conservation buffer, effectively resulting in a minimum ratio of CET1 to risk-weighted assets of at least 7%;
6.0% Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets, plus the capital conservation buffer, effectively resulting in a minimum Tier 1 capital ratio of at least 8.5%; and
8.0% total capital to risk-weighted assets, plus the capital conservation buffer, effectively resulting in a minimum total capital ratio of at least 10.5%.
The Basel III Capital Rules provide for a number of deductions from and adjustments to CET1. These include, for example, the requirement that (i) mortgage servicing rights, (ii) deferred tax assets arising from temporary differences that could not be realized through net operating loss carrybacks, and (iii) significant investments in non-consolidated financial entities be deducted from CET1 to the extent that any one such category exceeds 10% of CET1 or all such items, in the aggregate, exceed 15% of CET1. Implementation of the deductions and other adjustments to CET1 began on January 1, 2015 and were phased-in over a four-year period ending on January 1, 2019 (beginning at 40% on January 1, 2015 and an additional 20% per year thereafter). Under the Basel III Capital Rules, the effects of certain accumulated other comprehensive income or loss items are not excluded for the purposes of determining regulatory capital ratios; however, non-advanced approaches banking organizations (i.e., banking organizations with less than $250 billion in total consolidated assets or with less than $10 billion of on-balance sheet foreign exposures), including the Company and the Bank, may make a one-time permanent election to exclude these items. The Company and the Bank made this election in the first quarter of 2015’s call reports in order to avoid significant variations in the level of capital depending upon the impact of interest rate fluctuations on the fair value of its available-for-sale investment securities portfolio.
The Basel III Capital Rules prescribe a new standardized approach for risk weightings that expands the risk weighting categories from the previous four Basel I-derived categories (0%, 20%, 50% and 100%) to a larger and more risk-sensitive number of categories, generally ranging from 0% for U.S. Government and agency securities, to 600% for certain equity exposures, depending on the nature of the assets. The new capital rules generally result in higher risk weights for a variety of asset classes. Additional aspects of the Basel III Capital Rules that are relevant to the Company and the Bank include:
consistent with the Basel I risk-based capital rules, assigning exposures secured by single-family residential properties to either a 50% risk weight for first-lien mortgages that meet prudent underwriting standards or a 100% risk weight category for all other mortgages;
providing for a 20% credit conversion factor for the unused portion of a commitment with an original maturity of one year or less that is not unconditionally cancellable (set at 0% under the Basel I risk-based capital rules);
assigning a 150% risk weight to all exposures that are nonaccrual or 90 days or more past due (set at 100% under the Basel I risk-based capital rules), except for those secured by single-family residential properties, which will be assigned a 100% risk weight, consistent with the Basel I risk-based capital rules;
applying a 150% risk weight instead of a 100% risk weight for certain high volatility commercial real estate acquisition, development and construction loans; and
applying a 250% risk weight to the portion of mortgage servicing rights and deferred tax assets arising from temporary differences that could not be realized through net operating loss carrybacks that are not deducted from CET1 capital (set at 100% under the Basel I risk-based capital rules).
As of December 31, 2018, the Company’s and the Bank’s capital ratios exceeded the minimum capital adequacy guideline percentage requirements of the federal banking agencies for “well capitalized” institutions under the Basel III capital rules on a fully phased-in basis.
With respect to the Bank, the Basel III capital rules also revise the prompt corrective action regulations pursuant to Section 38 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.
In December 2017, the Basel Committee published standards that it described as the finalization of the Basel III post-crisis regulatory reforms, which standards are commonly referred to as Basel IV. Among other things, these standards revise the Basel Committee’s standardized approach for credit risk (including the recalibration of the risk weights and the introduction of new capital requirements for certain “unconditionally cancellable commitments,” such as unused credit card lines of credit) and provides a new standardized approach for operational risk capital. Under the Basel framework, these standards will generally be effective on January 1, 2022, with an aggregate output floor phasing in through January 1, 2027. Under the current U.S. capital rules, operational risk capital requirements and a capital floor apply only to advanced approaches institutions, and not to the Bank. The impact of Basel IV on us will depend on how it is implemented by the federal bank regulators.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended (“FDIA”), requires federal banking agencies to take PCA in respect of depository institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements. The FDIA includes the following five capital tiers: “well capitalized,” “adequately capitalized,” “undercapitalized,” “significantly undercapitalized,” and “critically undercapitalized.” A depository institution’s capital tier will depend upon how its capital levels compare with various relevant capital measures and certain other factors, as established by regulation. The Basel III Capital Rules revised the PCA requirements effective January 1, 2015. Under the revised PCA provisions of the FDIA, an insured depository institution generally will be classified in the following categories based on the capital measures indicated:
Tier 1 Risk-Based Capital Ratio
Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) Capital Ratio
Tangible Equity to Assets
Supplemental Leverage Ratio
10% or greater
8% or greater
6.5% or greater
5% or greater
8% or greater
6% or greater
4.5% or greater
4% or greater
3% or greater
Less than 8%
Less than 6%
Less than 4.5%
Less than 4%
Less than 3%
Less than 6%
Less than 4%
Less than 3%
Less than 3%
Less than 2%
An institution may be downgraded to, or deemed to be in, a capital category that is lower than indicated by its capital ratios, if it is determined to be in an unsafe or unsound condition or if it receives an unsatisfactory examination rating with respect to certain matters. A bank’s capital category is determined solely for the purpose of applying PCA regulations and the capital category may not constitute an accurate representation of the bank’s overall financial condition or prospects for other purposes.
The FDIA generally prohibits a depository institution from making any capital distributions (including payment of a dividend) or paying any management fee to its parent holding company, if the depository institution would thereafter be “undercapitalized.” “Undercapitalized” institutions are subject to growth limitations and are required to submit capital restoration plans. If a depository institution fails to submit an acceptable plan, it is treated as if it is “significantly undercapitalized.” “Significantly undercapitalized” depository institutions may be subject to a number of requirements and restrictions, including orders to sell sufficient voting stock to become “adequately capitalized,” requirements to reduce total assets, and cessation of receipt of deposits from correspondent banks. “Critically undercapitalized” institutions are subject to the appointment of a receiver or conservator.
The capital classification of a bank holding company and a bank affects the frequency of regulatory examinations, the bank holding company’s and the bank’s ability to engage in certain activities and the deposit insurance premium paid by the bank. As of December 31, 2018, we met the requirements to be “well-capitalized” based upon the aforementioned ratios for purposes of the prompt corrective action regulations, as currently in effect.
As directed by the Economic Growth Act, the federal bank agencies have issued a joint proposed rule whereby most qualifying community banking organizations with less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, that meet risk-based qualifying criteria, and have a community bank leverage ratio (“CBLR”) of greater than 9 percent would be able to opt into a new community banking leverage ratio framework. Such a community banking organization would not be subject to other risk-based and leverage capital requirements (including the Basel III and Basel IV requirements) and would be considered to have met the well capitalized ratio requirements. The CBLR is determined by dividing a financial institution’s tangible equity capital by its average total consolidated assets. The proposed rule further describes what is included in tangible equity capital and average total consolidated assets. The Bank feels that should this rule be adopted in a substantially similar format to the proposed rule, it would greatly ease the process of determining the Bank’s capital requirements.
Title III of the United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (the “Patriot Act”) is designed to deny terrorists and criminals the ability to obtain access to the U.S. financial system and has significant implications for depository institutions, brokers, dealers and other businesses involved in the transfer of money. The Patriot Act mandates financial services companies to have policies and procedures with respect to measures designed to address any or all of the following matters: (i) customer identification programs; (ii) money laundering; (iii) terrorist financing; (iv) identifying and reporting suspicious activities and currency transactions; (v) currency crimes; and (vi) cooperation between financial institutions and law enforcement authorities. Regulatory authorities routinely examine financial institutions for compliance with these obligations, and failure of a financial institution to maintain and implement adequate programs to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, or to comply with all of the relevant laws or regulations, could have serious legal and reputational consequences for the institution, including causing applicable bank regulatory authorities not to approve merger or acquisition transactions when regulatory approval is required or to prohibit such transactions even if approval is not required. Regulatory authorities have imposed cease and desist orders and civil money penalties against institutions found to be violating these obligations.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries and regimes under authority of various laws, including designated foreign countries, nationals and others. OFAC publishes lists of specially designated targets and countries. Financial institutions are responsible for, among other things, blocking accounts of and transactions with such targets and countries, prohibiting unlicensed trade and financial transactions with them and reporting blocked transactions after their occurrence. Banking regulators examine banks for compliance with the economic sanctions regulations administered by OFAC and failure of a financial institution to maintain and implement adequate OFAC programs, or to comply with all of the relevant laws or regulations, could have serious legal and reputational consequences for the institution.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) requires financial institutions in the U.S. to provide certain privacy disclosures to customers and consumers, to comply with certain restrictions on the sharing and usage of personally identifiable information, and to implement and maintain commercially reasonable customer information safeguarding standards.
The Company believes that it complies with all provisions of the GLBA and all implementing regulations and the Bank has developed appropriate policies and procedures to meet its responsibilities in connection with the privacy provisions of GLBA.
Dividends and Other Transfer of Funds
Dividends from the Bank constitute the principal source of cash to the Company. The Company is a legal entity separate and distinct from the Bank. The Bank is subject to various statutory and regulatory restrictions on its ability to pay dividends to the Company. Under such restrictions, the amount available for payment of dividends to the Company by the Bank totaled $38.4 million at December 31, 2018. During 2018, the Bank paid $73.0 million in dividends to the Company.
The FDIC and the DBO also have authority to prohibit the Bank from engaging in activities that, in their opinion, constitute unsafe or unsound practices in conducting its business. It is possible, depending upon the financial condition of the bank in question and other factors, that the FDIC or the DBO could assert that the payment of dividends or other payments might, under some circumstances, be an unsafe or unsound practice. Further, the FRB and the FDIC have established guidelines with respect to the maintenance of appropriate levels of capital by banks or bank holding companies under their jurisdiction. Compliance with the standards set forth in such guidelines and the restrictions that are or may be imposed under the prompt corrective action provisions of federal law could limit the amount of dividends that the Bank or the Company may pay. An insured depository institution is prohibited from paying management fees to any controlling persons or, with certain limited exceptions, making capital distributions if after such transaction the institution would be undercapitalized. The DBO may impose similar limitations on the Bank. See “Prompt Corrective Regulatory Action and Other Enforcement Mechanisms” and “Capital Standards” for a discussion of these additional restrictions on capital distributions.
The Bank is subject to certain restrictions imposed by federal law on any extensions of credit to, or the issuance of a guarantee or letter of credit on behalf of the Company or other affiliates, the purchase of, or investments in stock or other securities thereof, the taking of such securities as collateral for loans & leases, and the purchase of assets of the Company or other affiliates. Such restrictions prevent the Company and other affiliates from borrowing from the Bank unless the loans are secured by marketable obligations of designated amounts. Further, such secured loans and investments by the Bank to or in the Company or to or in any other affiliates are limited, individually, to 10% of the Bank’s capital and surplus (as defined by federal regulations), and such secured loans and investments are limited, in the aggregate, to 20% of the Bank’s capital and surplus (as defined by federal regulations).
In addition, the Company and its operating subsidiaries generally may not purchase a low-quality asset from an affiliate, and other specified transactions between the Company or its operating subsidiaries and an affiliate must be on terms and conditions that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices.
Also, the Company and its operating subsidiaries may engage in transactions with affiliates only on terms and under conditions that are substantially the same, or at least as favorable to the Company or its subsidiaries, as those prevailing at the time for comparable transactions with (or that in good faith would be offered to) non-affiliated companies.
California law also imposes certain restrictions with respect to transactions with affiliates. Additionally, limitations involving the transactions with affiliates may be imposed on the Bank under the prompt corrective action provisions of federal law. See “Prompt Corrective Action and Other Enforcement Mechanisms.”
Safety and Soundness Standards
The federal banking agencies have adopted guidelines that establish operational and managerial standards to promote the safety and soundness of federally insured depository institutions. The guidelines set forth standards for internal controls, information systems, internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, compensation, fees and benefits, asset quality and earnings.
In general, the safety and soundness guidelines prescribe the goals to be achieved in each area, and each institution is responsible for establishing its own procedures to achieve those goals. If an institution fails to comply with any of the standards set forth in the guidelines, the financial institution’s primary federal regulator may require the institution to submit a plan for achieving and maintaining compliance. If a financial institution fails to submit an acceptable compliance plan, or fails in any material respect to implement a compliance plan that has been accepted by its primary federal regulator, the regulator is required to issue an order directing the institution to cure the deficiency. Until the deficiency cited in the regulator’s order is cured, the regulator may restrict the financial institution’s rate of growth, require the financial institution to increase its capital, restrict the rates the institution pays on deposits or require the institution to take any action the regulator deems appropriate under the circumstances. Noncompliance with the standards established by the safety and soundness guidelines may also constitute grounds for other enforcement action by the federal bank regulatory agencies, including cease and desist orders and civil money penalty assessments.
During the past decade, the bank regulatory agencies have increasingly emphasized the importance of sound risk management processes and strong internal controls when evaluating the activities of the financial institutions they supervise. Properly managing risks has been identified as critical to the conduct of safe and sound banking activities and has become even more important as new technologies, product innovation, and the size and speed of financial transactions have changed the nature of banking markets. The agencies have identified a spectrum of risks facing a banking institution including, but not limited to, credit, market, liquidity, operational, legal, and reputational risk. In particular, recent regulatory pronouncements have focused on operational risk, which arises from the potential that inadequate information systems, operational problems, breaches in internal controls, fraud, or unforeseen catastrophes will result in unexpected losses. New products and services, third-party risk management and cyber-security are critical sources of operational risk that financial institutions are expected to address in the current environment. The Bank is expected to have active board and senior management oversight; adequate policies, procedures, and limits; adequate risk measurement, monitoring, and management information systems; and comprehensive internal controls.
As an FDIC-insured institution, the Bank is required to pay deposit insurance premium assessments to the FDIC. The premiums fund the deposit insurance fund. The FDIC assesses a quarterly deposit insurance premium on each insured institution based on risk characteristics of the institution and may also impose special assessments in emergency situations. Effective July 1, 2016, the FDIC changed the deposit insurance assessment system for banks, such as the Bank, with less than $10 billion in assets that have been federally insured for at least five years. Among other changes, the FDIC eliminated risk categories for such banks and now uses the “financial ratios method” to determine assessment rates for all such banks. Under the financial ratios method, the FDIC determines assessment rates based on a combination of financial data and supervisory ratings that estimate a bank’s probability of failure within three years. The assessment rate determined by considering such information is then applied to the amount of the institution’s average assets minus average tangible equity to determine the institution’s insurance premium.
The Dodd-Frank Act requires the FDIC to ensure that the DIF reserve ratio, which is the amount in the DIF as a percentage of all DIF-insured deposits, reaches 1.35% by September 3, 2020. The Dodd-Frank Act also altered the minimum designated reserve ratio for the DIF, increasing the minimum from 1.15% to 1.35%, and eliminated the requirement that the FDIC pay dividends to depository institutions when the reserve ratio exceeds certain thresholds. At least semi-annually, the FDIC updates its loss and income projections for the DIF and, if needed, may increase or decrease the assessment rates, following notice and comment on proposed rulemaking if required. As a result, the Bank’s FDIC deposit insurance premiums could increase.
The Bank’s FDIC premiums were $912,000 in 2018 and $932,000 in 2017. Future increases in insurance premiums could have adverse effects on the operating expenses and results of operations of the Company. Management cannot predict what insurance assessment rates will be in the future.
Insurance of deposits may be terminated by the FDIC upon a finding that the institution has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations, or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order, or condition imposed by the FDIC or the Bank’s primary regulator. Management of the Company is not aware of any practice, condition or violation that might lead to termination of the Company’s deposit insurance.
Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) and Fair Lending
The Bank is subject to certain fair lending requirements involving lending, investing, and other CRA activities. CRA requires each insured depository institution to identify the communities served by the institution’s offices and to identify the types of credit and investments the institution is prepared to extend within such communities including low and moderate-income neighborhoods. It also requires the institution’s regulators to assess the institution’s performance in meeting the credit needs of its community and to take such assessment into consideration in reviewing applications for mergers, acquisitions, relocation of existing branches, opening of new branches, and other transactions. A bank may be subject to substantial penalties and corrective measures for a violation of certain fair lending laws.
A bank’s compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act is assessed using an evaluation system, which bases CRA ratings on an institution’s lending, service and investment performance. An unsatisfactory rating may be the basis for denying a merger application. The Bank’s latest CRA examination was completed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in August 2016 and the Bank received an overall Outstanding rating in complying with its CRA obligations.
Consumer Protection Regulations
Banks and other financial institutions are subject to numerous laws and regulations intended to protect consumers in their transactions with banks. These laws include, among others, laws regarding unfair and deceptive acts and practices and usury laws, as well as the following consumer protection statutes: Truth in Lending Act, Truth in Savings Act, Electronic Fund Transfer Act, Expedited Funds Availability Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, Fair Housing Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Right to Financial Privacy Act, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Military Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
Many states and local jurisdictions have consumer protection laws analogous, and in addition, to those listed above. These federal, state and local laws regulate the manner in which financial institutions deal with customers when taking deposits, making loans or conducting other types of transactions. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations could give rise to regulatory sanctions, customer rescission rights, action by state and local attorneys general and civil or criminal liability. Failure to comply with consumer protection requirements may also result in our failure to obtain any required bank regulatory approval for merger or acquisition transactions we may wish to pursue or our prohibition from engaging in such transactions even if approval is not required.
The structure of federal consumer protection regulation applicable to all providers of consumer financial products and services changed significantly on July 21, 2011, when the CFPB commenced operations to supervise and enforce consumer protection laws. The consumer protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and the examination, supervision and enforcement of those laws and implementing regulations by the CFPB have created a more intense and complex environment for consumer finance regulation. The CFPB has significant authority to implement and enforce federal consumer protection laws and new requirements for financial services products provided for in the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as the authority to identify and prohibit unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices. The review of products and practices to prevent such acts and practices is a continuing focus of the CFPB, and of banking regulators more broadly. The ultimate impact of this heightened scrutiny is uncertain but could result in changes to pricing, practices, products and procedures. It could also result in increased costs related to regulatory oversight, supervision and examination, additional remediation efforts and possible penalties. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act provides the CFPB with broad supervisory, examination and enforcement authority over various consumer financial products and services, including the ability to require reimbursements and other payments to customers for alleged legal violations and to impose significant penalties, as well as injunctive relief that prohibits lenders from engaging in allegedly unlawful practices. The CFPB also has the authority to obtain cease and desist orders providing for affirmative relief or monetary penalties. The Dodd-Frank Act does not prevent states from adopting stricter consumer protection standards. State regulation of financial products and potential enforcement actions could also adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The CFPB is authorized to issue rules for both bank and nonbank companies that offer consumer financial products and services, subject to consultation with the prudential banking regulators. In general, however, banks with assets of $10 billion or less, such as the Bank, will continue to be examined for consumer compliance by their primary bank regulator.
Notice and Approval Requirements Related to Control
Banking laws impose notice, approval and ongoing regulatory requirements on any stockholder or other party that seeks to acquire direct or indirect “control” of an FDIC-insured depository institution. These laws include the BHCA and the Change in Bank Control Act. Among other things, these laws require regulatory filings by a stockholder or other party that seeks to acquire direct or indirect “control” of an FDIC-insured depository institution or bank holding company. The determination whether an investor “controls” a depository institution is based on all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the investment. As a general matter, a party is deemed to control a depository institution or other company if the party owns or controls 25% or more of any class of voting stock. Subject to rebuttal, a party may be presumed to control a depository institution or other company if the investor owns or controls 10% or more of any class of voting stock. Ownership by family members, affiliated parties, or parties acting in concert, is typically aggregated for these purposes. If a party’s ownership of the Company were to exceed certain thresholds, the investor could be deemed to “control” the Company for regulatory purposes. This could subject the investor to regulatory filings or other regulatory consequences.
In addition, except under limited circumstances, bank holding companies are prohibited from acquiring, without prior approval:
control of any other bank or bank holding company or all or substantially all the assets thereof; or
more than 5% of the voting shares of a bank or bank holding company which is not already a subsidiary.
In 2010, the federal bank regulatory agencies issued comprehensive guidance intended to ensure that the incentive compensation policies of banking organizations do not undermine the safety and soundness of those organizations by encouraging excessive risk-taking. The incentive compensation guidance sets expectations for banking organizations concerning their incentive compensation arrangements and related risk-management, control and governance processes. The incentive compensation guidance, which covers all employees that have the ability to materially affect the risk profile of an organization, either individually or as part of a group, is based upon three primary principles: (1) balanced risk-taking incentives; (2) compatibility with effective controls and risk management; and (3) strong corporate governance. Any deficiencies in compensation practices that are identified may be incorporated into the organization’s supervisory ratings, which can affect its ability to make acquisitions or take other actions. In addition, under the incentive compensation guidance, a banking organization’s federal supervisor may initiate enforcement action if the organization’s incentive compensation arrangements pose a risk to the safety and soundness of the organization.
In 2016, several federal financial agencies (including the FRB and FDIC) re-proposed restrictions on incentive-based compensation pursuant to Section 956 of the Dodd-Frank Act for financial institutions with $1 billion or more in total consolidated assets. For institutions with at least $1 billion but less than $50 billion in total consolidated assets, the proposal would impose principles-based restrictions that are broadly consistent with existing interagency guidance on incentive-based compensation. Such institutions would be prohibited from entering into incentive compensation arrangements that encourage inappropriate risks by the institution (i) by providing an executive officer, employee, director, or principal shareholder with excessive compensation, fees, or benefits, or (ii) that could lead to material financial loss to the institution. The comment period for these proposed regulations has closed, but a final rule has not been published. Depending upon the outcome of the rule making process, the application of this rule to us could require us to revise our compensation strategy, increase our administrative costs and adversely affect our ability to recruit and retain qualified employees. Further, as discussed above, the Basel III Capital Rules limit discretionary bonus payments to bank executives if the institution’s regulatory capital ratios fail to exceed certain thresholds that started being phased in on January 1, 2016.
Company reports filed with the SEC including the annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and ownership reports filed by directors, executive officers and principal stockholders can be accessed through the Company’s website at http://www.fmbonline.com. The link to the SEC is on the About Us page. The Company’s reports may also be accessed at the SEC’s Internet website (http://www.sec.gov).
An investment in our common stock is subject to risks inherent in our business. The material risks and uncertainties that management believes may affect our business are described below. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below together with all of the other information included or incorporated by reference in this 10-K Report. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing our business. Additional risks and uncertainties that management is not aware of or focused on or that management currently deems immaterial may also impair our business operations. This 10-K Report is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors.
If any of the following risks actually occur, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. If this were to happen, the value of our common stock could decline significantly, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
Risks Associated With Our Business
Economic Conditions Nationally And In Our Service Areas Could Adversely Affect Our Operations And/Or Cause Us To Sustain Losses - The national economy and the economy of other portions of California have, for the most part, experienced solid improvements over the past several years. However, the economy of the Central Valley of California, which remains the Company’s primary market area, despite having improved, continues to experience challenges. This is reflected in:
continuing public sector financial stress, both at the local and statewide level. See “Item 1. Business – Service Area.” For example, the State of California, a large employer in one of the Company’s market territories, continues to experience financial challenges, particularly relating to the funding of pension and other financial commitments made to retired employees, and the City of Stockton, which exited bankruptcy in February, 2015 but still faces financial challenges; and
levels of unemployment that remain above statewide and nationwide averages and home prices that have improved but remain below peak levels in many market segments.
Although we have initiated efforts to broaden our geographic footprint, our retail and commercial banking operations remain concentrated in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced Counties. See “Item 1. Business – Service Area.” As a result of this geographic concentration, our results of operations depend largely upon economic conditions in these areas. Whereas much of this area has improved, real estate values remain below peak prices and unemployment remains above most other areas in the state and country. As a result, risk still remains from the possibility that losses will be sustained if a significant number of our borrowers, guarantors and related parties fail to perform in accordance with the terms of their loans or leases. We have adopted underwriting and credit monitoring procedures and credit policies, including the establishment and review of the allowance for credit losses, that management believes are appropriate to minimize this risk by assessing the likelihood of nonperformance, tracking loan & lease performance and diversifying our credit portfolio. These policies and procedures; however, may not prevent unexpected losses that could materially adversely affect our results of operations in general and the market value of our stock. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Overview - Looking Forward: 2019 and Beyond.”
Additionally, despite the stability of our earnings over the last several years, economic uncertainties may continue for the foreseeable future and the full extent of the repercussions on our local economies in general and our business in particular are still not fully known at this time. Such events may have a negative effect on: (i) our ability to service our existing customers and attract new customers; (ii) the ability of our borrowers to operate their business as successfully as in the past; (iii) the financial security and net worth of our customers; and (iv) the ability of our customers to repay their loans or leases with us in accordance with the terms thereof.
Our Allowance For Credit Losses May Not Be Adequate To Cover Actual Losses - A significant source of risk arises from the possibility that losses could be sustained because borrowers, guarantors, and related parties may fail to perform in accordance with the terms of their loans & leases. The underwriting and credit monitoring policies and procedures that we have adopted to address this risk may not prevent unexpected losses that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Unexpected losses may arise from a wide variety of specific or systemic factors, many of which are beyond our ability to predict, influence, or control.
Like all financial institutions, we maintain an allowance for credit losses to provide for loan & lease defaults and non-performance. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Provision and Allowance for Credit Losses.” The allowance is funded from a provision for credit losses, which is a charge to our income statement. Our allowance for credit losses may not be adequate to cover actual loan & lease losses, and future provisions for credit losses could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. The allowance for credit losses reflects our estimate of the probable losses in our loan & lease portfolio at the relevant balance sheet date. Our allowance for credit losses is based on prior experience, as well as an evaluation of the known risks in the current portfolio, composition and growth of the loan & lease portfolio and other economic factors. The determination of an appropriate level of credit loss allowance is an inherently difficult process and is based on numerous assumptions. The amount of future losses is susceptible to changes in economic, operating and other conditions, including changes in interest rates, that may be beyond our control and these losses may exceed current estimates.
The process we use to estimate losses inherent in our credit exposure requires difficult, subjective and complex judgments, including forecasts of economic conditions and how these economic conditions might impair the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans and lessees to make their lease payments. The level of uncertainty concerning current economic conditions may adversely affect the accuracy of our estimates, which may, in turn, impact the reliability of the allowance for credit losses.
While we believe that our allowance for credit losses is adequate to cover our estimate of the current probable losses, we cannot assure you that we will not increase the allowance for credit losses further or that regulators will not require us to increase this allowance. Either of these occurrences could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
In June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued an Accounting Standards Update, Financial Instruments: Credit Losses (“CECL”), which establishes a new impairment framework also known as the “current expected credit loss model.” In contrast to the incurred loss model currently used by financial entities like us, the current expected credit loss model requires an allowance be recognized based on the expected credit losses (i.e. all contractual cash flows that the entity does not expect to collect from financial assets or commitments to extend credit). It requires the consideration of more forward-looking information than is permitted under current U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. In addition to relevant information about past events and current conditions, such as borrowers’ current creditworthiness, quantitative and qualitative factors specific to borrowers, and the economic environment in which the entity operates, the new model requires consideration of reasonable and supportable forecasts that affect the expected collectability of the financial assets’ remaining contractual cash flows, and evaluation of the forecasted direction of the economic cycle, as well as time value of money. This proposed impairment framework is expected to have wide reaching implications to financial institutions such as us. The CECL model will become effective for the Bank for the fiscal year beginning after December 15, 2019. See Note 20, located in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”
We Are Dependent On Real Estate And Downturns In The Real Estate Market Could Hurt Our Business - A significant portion of our loan portfolio is dependent on real estate. See “Item 1. Business – Supervision and Regulation - Prompt Corrective Action.” At December 31, 2018, real estate served as the principal source of collateral with respect to approximately 70% of our loans outstanding. Stresses in economic conditions in our local markets or rising interest rates could have an adverse effect on the demand for new loans, the ability of borrowers to repay outstanding loans, the value of real estate and other collateral securing loans and the value of real estate owned by us, as well as our financial condition and results of operations in general and the market value of our common stock.
Acts of nature, including earthquakes, floods and fires, which may cause uninsured damage and other loss of value to real estate that secures these loans, may also negatively impact our financial condition.
Our Real Estate Lending Also Exposes Us To The Risk Of Environmental Liabilities - In the course of our business, we may foreclose and take title to real estate, and could be subject to environmental liabilities with respect to these properties. We may be held liable to a governmental entity or to third persons for property damage, personal injury, investigation and clean-up costs incurred by these parties in connection with environmental contamination, or may be required to investigate or clean up hazardous or toxic substances, or chemical releases at a property. The costs associated with investigation or remediation activities could be substantial. In addition, as the owner or former owner of a contaminated site, we may be subject to common law claims by third parties based on damages and costs resulting from environmental contamination emanating from the property. If we ever become subject to significant environmental liabilities, our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Our Business Is Subject To Interest Rate Risk And Changes In Interest Rates May Adversely Affect Our Performance And Financial Condition - Our earnings are impacted by changing interest rates. Changes in interest rates impact the demand for new loans & leases, the credit profile of our borrowers, the rates received on loans & leases and securities and rates paid on deposits and borrowings. The difference between the rates received on loans & leases and securities and the rates paid on deposits and borrowings is known as the net interest margin. Like many financial institutions, our net interest margin has improved over the past year as a result of the FRB increasing short-term interest rates by 2.25% since December 2015. However, looking forward, even if short-term rates continue to rise, aggressive competitor pricing strategies, particularly for deposits, could adversely impact our net interest margin in 2019.
Future levels of market interest rates could adversely affect our earnings. Despite the FRB increasing short-term interest rates by 2.25% since December 2015 they remain at relatively low levels. Our CRE and commercial loans carry interest rates that, in general, adjust in accordance with changes in the prime rate. We are also significantly affected by the level of loan & lease demand available in our market. The inability to make sufficient loans & leases directly affects the interest income we earn. Lower loan & lease demand will generally result in lower interest income realized as we place funds in lower yielding investments. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Overview - Looking Forward: 2019 and Beyond.”
Although we believe our current level of interest rate sensitivity is reasonable, significant fluctuations in interest rates and increasing competition may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Net Interest Income/Net Interest Margin” and “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk - Interest Rate Risk.”
Our Accounting Estimates and Risk Management Processes Rely On Analytical and Forecasting Models - The processes we use to measure the fair value of financial instruments, as well as the processes used to estimate the effects of changing interest rates and other market measures on our financial condition and results of operations, depends upon the use of analytical and forecasting models. These models reflect assumptions that may not be accurate, particularly in times of market stress or other unforeseen circumstances. Even if these assumptions are adequate, the models may prove to be inadequate or inaccurate because of other flaws in their design or their implementation. If the models we use for interest rate risk and asset-liability management are inadequate, we may incur increased or unexpected losses upon changes in market interest rates or other market measures. If the models we use to measure the fair value of financial instruments are inadequate, the fair value of such financial instruments may fluctuate unexpectedly or may not accurately reflect what we could realize upon sale or settlement of such financial instruments. Any such failure in our analytical or forecasting models could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Failure To Successfully Execute Our Strategy Could Adversely Affect Our Performance - Our financial performance and profitability depends on our ability to execute our corporate growth strategy. Continued growth however, may present operating and other problems that could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will be able to execute our growth strategy or maintain the level of profitability that we have recently experienced. Factors that may adversely affect our ability to attain our long-term financial performance goals include those stated elsewhere in this section, as well as the:
inability to maintain or increase net interest margin;
inability to control non-interest expense, including, but not limited to, rising employee and healthcare costs and the costs of regulatory compliance;
inability to maintain or increase non-interest income;
the need to raise additional capital to support growth and regulatory requirements; and
continuing ability to expand through de novo branching or otherwise.
Growth May Produce Unfavorable Outcomes - We seek to expand our franchise safely and consistently. A successful growth strategy requires us to manage multiple aspects of the business simultaneously, such as following adequate loan underwriting standards, balancing loan and deposit growth without increasing interest rate risk or compressing our net interest margin, maintaining sufficient capital, and recruiting, training and retaining qualified professionals.
Our growth strategy also includes acquisition possibilities (such as Delta National Bancorp & Bank of Rio Vista) that either enhance our market presence or have potential for improved profitability through financial management, economies of scale or expanded services. We may be exposed to difficulties in combining the operations of acquired institutions into our own operations, which may prevent us from achieving the expected benefits from our acquisition activities. Inherent uncertainties exist in integrating the operations of an acquired institution and there is no assurance that we will be able to do so successfully. Among the issues that we could face are:
unexpected problems with operations, personnel, technology or credit;
loss of customers and employees of the acquiree;
difficulty in working with the acquiree’s employees and customers;
the assimilation of the acquiree’s operations, culture and personnel;
instituting and maintaining uniform standards, controls, procedures and policies; and
litigation risk not discovered during the due diligence period.
Undiscovered factors as a result of an acquisition could bring liabilities against us, our management and the management of the institutions we acquire. These factors could contribute to our not achieving the expected benefits from our acquisitions within desired time frames, if at all. Further, although we anticipate cost savings as a result of mergers, we may not be able to fully realize those savings. Any cost savings that are realized may be offset by losses in revenues or other charges to earnings.
New Market Areas And New Lines Of Business Or New Products And Services May Subject Us To Additional Risks. A Failure To Successfully Manage These Risks May Have A Material Adverse Effect On Our Business - As part of our growth strategy, we have implemented and may continue to implement new market areas and new lines of business. We recently have begun to (i) expand into the East Bay area of San Francisco and Napa, which are new market areas for us, and (ii) introduce equipment leasing as a new product line. There are risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances where such product lines are not fully mature. In developing and marketing new lines of business and/or new products and services and/or shifting the focus of our asset mix and/or expanding into new markets, we may invest significant time and resources. Initial timetables may not be achieved and price and profitability targets may not prove feasible. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competitive alternatives in these markets and shifting market preferences, may also impact the successful implementation. Failure to successfully manage these risks could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our Financial Results Can Be Impacted By The Cyclicality and Seasonality Of Our Agricultural Business And The Risks Related Thereto - The Company has provided financing to agricultural customers in the Central Valley throughout its history. We recognize the cyclical nature of the industry, often caused by fluctuating commodity prices, changing climatic conditions and the availability of seasonal labor, and manage these risks accordingly. The Company remains committed to providing credit to agricultural customers and will always have a material exposure to this industry. Although the Company’s loan portfolio is believed to be well diversified, at various times during 2018 approximately 36% of the Company’s loan balances were outstanding to agricultural borrowers. Commitments are well diversified across various commodities, including dairy, grapes, walnuts, almonds, cherries, apples, pears, and various row crops. Additionally, many individual borrowers are themselves diversified across commodity types, reducing their exposure, and therefore the Company’s, to cyclical downturns in any one commodity.
The Company’s service areas can also be significantly impacted by the seasonal operations of the agricultural industry. As a result, the Company’s financial results can be influenced by the banking needs of its agricultural customers (e.g., generally speaking during the spring and summer customers draw down their deposit balances and increase loan borrowing to fund the purchase of equipment and the planting of crops. Correspondingly, deposit balances are replenished and loans repaid in late fall and winter as crops are harvested and sold).
The Impact of Climate and Government on The Availability of Water is a Long Term Risk That Could Affect Our Customers’ Businesses - The State of California experienced drought conditions from 2013 through most of 2016. Since 2016, reasonable levels of rain and snow have alleviated drought conditions in many areas of California, including those in the Company’s primary service area. As a result, reservoir levels are high and the availability of water in our primary service area should not be an issue. However, the weather patterns over the past 5 years further reinforce the fact that the long-term risks associated with the availability of water are significant.
The farming belt of the Central Valley was often cited as an example of an area that experienced extreme drought during 2013 - 2016. However, it is important to understand that not all areas of the state were impacted equally, and this is particularly true in the Central Valley, which stretches some 450 miles from Bakersfield in the south to Redding in the north. The vast majority of the Company’s agricultural customers are located in the more northern portion of the Central Valley, an area that benefits from the drainage of the Sacramento, American, Mokelumne and Stanislaus rivers. As a result, even during the worst of the drought farmers in this area still had access to reasonable ground water sources that were economical to pump.
Importantly, the Company has minimal credit exposure in the more southern portion of the Central Valley, defined broadly as an area south of Highway 152, but more importantly the Fresno area and south (including the Westlands Water District). In most of these areas ground water levels were depleted, making farmers increasingly dependent on the delivery of surface water from the Central Valley Project, which cut back deliveries to many farmers during the worst of the drought.
In addition to the impact of climate on the availability of water, the “politics” of water, and how the state and federal governments ultimately manage this resource, could also impact how much water our customers have access to. For example:
Many of our agricultural customers have senior riparian water rights, which provide them the legal right to access surface water from the rivers that abut their property. In the spring of 2015, the State of California took the extreme step of threatening to curtail certain riparian water rights for those farmers taking water from the Delta, and as a result affected growers agreed to voluntarily cutback 25% of their normal water usage as opposed to undertaking a protracted legal fight. Even with these cutbacks, our agricultural customers still had access to sufficient levels of water to satisfy their needs.
In 2014, the State of California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. All Water Districts must develop plans to comply with the Act, including groundwater recharge programs. Although the exact impact of compliance is not currently known, and even prior to 2014 most of the Water Districts in the Bank’s service area had been developing and implementing management plans, it is possible that some Water Districts will have to ultimately fallow some ground to achieve compliance with the Act.
These situations point out how the “politics” of water can also affect the availability of water.
The Company monitors the water situation through: (i) regularly reviewing ground water level reports provided by California’s Department of Water Resources; (ii) requiring water budgets and plans from all of our agricultural borrowers that detail the sources of their irrigation water and the irrigation requirements to achieve their crop plan; and (iii) in the case of new permanent crop development projects, requiring well tests.
We Face Strong Competition From Financial Service Companies And Other Companies That Offer Banking Services That Could Adversely Impact Our Business - The financial services business in our market areas is highly competitive. It is becoming increasingly competitive due to changes in regulation, technological advances, and the accelerating pace of consolidation among financial services providers. We face competition both in attracting deposits and in making loans & leases. We compete for loans & leases principally through the interest rates and loan & lease fees we charge and the efficiency and quality of services we provide. Increasing levels of competition in the banking and financial services business may reduce our market share, decrease loan & lease demand, cause the prices we charge for our services to fall, or decrease our net interest margin by forcing us to offer lower lending interest rates and pay higher deposit interest rates. Therefore, our results may differ in future periods depending upon the nature or level of competition.
Technology and other changes are allowing parties to complete financial transactions that historically have involved banks through alternative methods. For example, consumers can now maintain funds that would have historically been held as bank deposits in brokerage accounts or mutual funds. Consumers can also complete transactions such as paying bills and/or transferring funds directly without the assistance of banks. The process of eliminating banks as intermediaries, known as “disintermediation,” could result in the loss of fee income, as well as the loss of customer deposits and the related income generated from those deposits. The loss of these revenue streams and the lower cost deposits as a source of funds could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Many of our competitors offer products and services that we do not offer, and many have substantially greater resources, such as greater capital resources and more access to longer term, lower cost funding sources. Many also have greater name recognition and market presence that benefit them in attracting business. In addition, larger competitors may be able to price loans & lease and deposits more aggressively than we do. Our larger competitors generally have easier access to capital, and often on better terms. Some of the financial services organizations with which we compete are not subject to the same degree of regulation as is imposed on bank holding companies and federally insured state-chartered banks, national banks and federal savings institutions. As a result, these non-bank competitors have certain advantages over us in accessing funding and in providing various services. Other competitors are subject to similar regulation but have the advantages of larger established customer bases, higher lending limits, extensive branch networks, numerous automated teller machines, greater advertising and marketing budgets or other factors. Some of our competitors have other advantages, such as tax exemption in the case of credit unions, and lesser regulation in the case of mortgage companies and specialty finance companies.
Deposit Insurance Assessments Could Increase At Any Time, Which Will Adversely Affect Profits - FDIC deposit insurance expense for the years 2018, 2017, and 2016 was $912,000, $932,000, and $1.17 million, respectively. During 2011, the FDIC changed its methodology for calculating deposit premiums, See “Item 1. Business – Supervision and Regulation – Deposit Insurance.” Any increases could have adverse effects on the operating expenses and results of operations of the Company.
We May Not Be Able To Attract And Retain Skilled People - Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to attract and retain key people. Competition for the best people in most of our activities can be intense and we may not be able to hire people or to retain them. The unexpected loss of services of one or more of our key personnel could have a material adverse impact on our business because of their skills, knowledge of our market, years of industry experience and the difficulty of promptly finding qualified replacement personnel.
Our Internal Operations Are Subject To A Number Of Risks - We are subject to certain operations risks, including, but not limited to, information system failures and errors, customer or employee fraud and catastrophic failures resulting from terrorist acts or natural disasters. We maintain a system of internal controls to mitigate against such occurrences and maintain insurance coverage for such risks that are insurable, but should such an event occur that is not prevented or detected by our internal controls, uninsured or in excess of applicable insurance limits, it could have a significant adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We rely heavily on communications and information systems to conduct our business. Any failure, interruption or breach in security of these systems could result in failures or disruptions in our customer relationship management, general ledger, deposit, loan & leases and other systems. While we have policies and procedures designed to prevent or limit the effect of the failure, interruption or security breach of our information systems, there can be no assurance that any such failures, interruptions or security breaches will not occur or, if they do occur, that they will be adequately addressed. The occurrence of any failures, interruptions or security breaches of our information systems could damage our reputation, result in a loss of customer business, subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny, or expose us to civil litigation and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. The effective use of technology increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to better serve customers and to reduce costs. Our future success depends, in part, upon our ability to address the needs of our customers by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy customer demands, as well as to create additional efficiencies in our operations. Many of our competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. We may not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to our customers. Failure to successfully keep pace with technological change affecting the financial services industry could have a material adverse impact on our business and, in turn, our financial condition and results of operations.
Natural disasters, acts of war or terrorism and other adverse external events could have a significant impact on our ability to conduct business. Such events could affect the stability of our deposit base, impair the ability of borrowers to repay outstanding loans and lessees to make lease payments, impair the value of collateral securing loans & leases, cause significant property damage, result in loss of revenue and/or cause us to incur additional expenses. Operations in several of our markets could be disrupted by both the evacuation of large portions of the population as well as damage and or lack of access to our banking and operation facilities. While we have not experienced such an occurrence to date, other natural disasters, acts of war or terrorism or other adverse external events may occur in the future. Although management has established disaster recovery policies and procedures, the occurrence of any such event could have a material adverse effect on our business, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
The Value of Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets May Decline in the Future - As of December 31, 2018, we had goodwill totaling $11.2 million and a core deposit intangible asset totaling $5.3 million from business acquisitions. A significant decline in expected future cash flows, a significant adverse change in the business climate, slower growth rates or a significant and sustained decline in the price of our common stock could necessitate taking charges in the future related to the impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets. If we were to conclude that a future write-down of goodwill or other intangible assets is necessary, we would record the appropriate charge, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Depend On Cash Dividends From The Bank To Meet Our Cash Obligations - As a holding company, dividends from the Bank provide a substantial portion of our cash flow used to service the interest payments on our subordinated debentures issued in 2003 and our other obligations, including cash dividends. See “Item 5. Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.” Various statutory provisions restrict the amount of dividends our subsidiary bank can pay to us without regulatory approval.
A Lack Of Liquidity Could Adversely Affect Our Operations And Jeopardize Our Business, Financial Condition And Results Of Operations - Liquidity is essential to our business. We rely on our ability to generate deposits and effectively manage the repayment and maturity schedules of our loans and investment securities, respectively, to ensure that we have adequate liquidity to fund our operations. An inability to raise funds through deposits, borrowings, the sale of our investment securities, Federal Home Loan Bank advances, the sale of loans and other sources could have a substantial negative effect on our liquidity. Our most important source of funds consists of deposits. Deposit balances can decrease when customers perceive alternative investments as providing a better risk/return tradeoff. If customers move money out of bank deposits and into other investments, we would lose a relatively low-cost source of funds, increasing our funding costs and reducing our net interest income and net income.
Other primary sources of funds consist of cash flows from operations, investment maturities and sales of investment securities and proceeds from the issuance and sale of any equity and debt securities to investors. Additional liquidity is provided by the ability to borrow from the Federal Reserve Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank and our ability to raise brokered deposits. We also may borrow funds from third-party lenders, such as other financial institutions. Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance or capitalize our activities, or on terms that are acceptable to us, could be impaired by factors that affect us directly or the bank or non-bank financial services industries or economy in general, such as disruptions in the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the bank or non-bank financial services industries.
As of December 31, 2018, approximately $1.6 billion, or 52.2%, of our deposits consisted of interest-bearing demand deposits, savings and money market accounts. Based on past experience, we believe that our deposit accounts are relatively stable sources of funds. If we increase interest rates paid to retain deposits, our earnings may be adversely affected, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any decline in available funding could adversely impact our ability to originate loans, invest in securities, meet our expenses, pay dividends to our stockholders or to fulfill obligations such as repaying our borrowings or meeting deposit withdrawal demands, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our liquidity, business, financial condition and results of operations.
System failure or breaches of our network security could subject us to increased operating costs as well as litigation and other liabilities - The computer systems and network infrastructure we use could be vulnerable to hardware and cyber-security issues. Our operations are dependent upon our ability to protect our computer equipment against damage from fire, power loss, telecommunications failure or a similar catastrophic event. We could also experience a breach by intentional or negligent conduct on the part of employees or other internal or external sources, including our third-party vendors. Any damage or failure that causes an interruption in our operations could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our operations are dependent upon our ability to protect the computer systems and network infrastructure utilized by us, including our internet banking activities, against damage from physical break-ins, cyber-security breaches and other disruptive problems caused by the internet or other users. Such computer break-ins and other disruptions would jeopardize the security of information stored in and transmitted through our computer systems and network infrastructure, which may result in significant liability, damage our reputation and inhibit the use of our internet banking services by current and potential customers.
We rely heavily on communications, information systems (both internal and provided by third-parties) and the internet to conduct our business. Our business is dependent on our ability to process and monitor large numbers of daily transactions in compliance with legal, regulatory and internal standards and specifications. In addition, a significant portion of our operations relies heavily on the secure processing, storage and transmission of personal and confidential information, such as the personal information of our customers and clients. In recent periods, several governmental agencies and large corporations, including financial service organizations and retail companies, have suffered major data breaches, in some cases exposing not only their confidential and proprietary corporate information, but also sensitive financial and other personal information of their clients and their employees or other third-parties, and subjecting those agencies and corporations to potential fraudulent activity and their clients and other third-parties to identity theft and fraudulent activity in their credit card and banking accounts. Therefore, security breaches and cyber-attacks can cause significant increases in operating costs, including the costs of compensating clients and customers for any resulting losses they may incur and the costs and capital expenditures required to correct the deficiencies in and strengthen the security of data processing and storage systems. These risks may increase in the future as we continue to increase mobile payments and other internet-based product offerings and expand our internal usage of web-based products and applications.
In addition to well-known risks related to fraudulent activity, which take many forms, such as check “kiting” or fraud, wire fraud, and other dishonest acts, information security breaches and cyber-security related incidents have become a material risk in the financial services industry. For example, several U.S. financial institutions have recently experienced significant distributed denial-of-service attacks, some of which involved sophisticated and targeted attacks intended to disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems. Other potential attacks have attempted to obtain unauthorized access to confidential information, steal money, or manipulate or destroy data, often through the introduction of computer viruses or malware, cyber-attacks and other means. Other threats of this type may include fraudulent or unauthorized access to data processing or data storage systems used by us or by our clients, electronic identity theft, “phishing,” account takeover, and malware or other cyber-attacks. To date, none of these types of attacks have had a material effect on our business or operations. Such security attacks can originate from a wide variety of sources, including persons who are involved with organized crime or who may be linked to terrorist organizations or hostile foreign governments. Those same parties may also attempt to fraudulently induce employees, customers or other users of our systems to disclose sensitive information in order to gain access to our data or that of our customers or clients.
We are also subject to the risk that our employees may intercept and transmit unauthorized confidential or proprietary information. An interception, misuse or mishandling of personal, confidential or proprietary information being sent to or received from a customer or third-party could result in legal liabilities, remediation costs, regulatory actions and reputational harm.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to anticipate, detect, or recognize these threats to our systems, or to implement effective preventative measures against all breaches, whether those breaches are malicious or accidental. Cyber-security risks for banking organizations have significantly increased in recent years and have been difficult to detect before they occur because of the following, among other reasons:
the proliferation of new technologies, and the use of the Internet and telecommunications technologies to conduct financial transactions;
these threats arise from numerous sources, not all of which are in our control, including among others human error, fraud or malice on the part of employees or third-parties, accidental technological failure, electrical or telecommunication outages, failures of computer servers or other damage to our property or assets, natural disasters or severe weather conditions, or terrorist acts;
the techniques used in cyber-attacks change frequently and may not be recognized until launched or until well after the breach has occurred;
the increased sophistication and activities of organized crime groups, hackers, terrorist organizations, hostile foreign governments, disgruntled employees or vendors, activists and other external parties, including those involved in corporate espionage;
the vulnerability of systems to third-parties seeking to gain access to such systems either directly or using equipment or security passwords belonging to employees, customers, third-party service providers or other users of our systems; and
our frequent transmission of sensitive information to, and storage of such information by, third-parties, including our vendors and regulators, and possible weaknesses that go undetected in our data systems notwithstanding the testing we conduct of those systems.
Our investments in systems and processes that are designed to detect and prevent security breaches and cyber-attacks and our conduct of periodic tests of our security systems and processes, may not succeed in anticipating or adequately protecting against or preventing all security breaches and cyber-attacks from occurring. Even the most advanced internal control environment may be vulnerable to compromise. Targeted social engineering attacks are becoming more sophisticated and are extremely difficult to prevent. Additionally, the existence of cyber-attacks or security breaches at third-parties with access to our data, such as vendors, may not be disclosed to us in a timely manner. As cyber-threats continue to evolve, we may be required to expend significant additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any information security vulnerabilities or incidents. We maintain a system of internal controls and insurance coverage to mitigate against operational risks, including data processing system failures and errors and customer or employee fraud. If our internal controls fail to prevent or detect an occurrence, or if any resulting loss is not insured or exceeds applicable insurance limits, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As is the case with non-electronic fraudulent activity, cyber-attacks or other information or security breaches, whether directed at us or third-parties, may result in a material loss or have material consequences. Furthermore, the public perception that a cyber-attack on our systems has been successful, whether or not this perception is correct, may damage our reputation with customers and third-parties with whom we do business. A successful penetration or circumvention of system security could cause us negative consequences, including loss of customers and business opportunities, disruption to our operations and business, misappropriation or destruction of our confidential information and/or that of our customers, or damage to our customers’ and/or third-parties’ computers or systems, and could expose us to additional regulatory scrutiny and result in a violation of applicable privacy laws and other laws, litigation exposure, regulatory fines, penalties or intervention, loss of confidence in our security measures, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensatory costs, additional compliance costs, and could adversely impact our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.
We Rely On Third-Party Vendors For Important Aspects Of Our Operation - We depend on the accuracy and completeness of information and systems provided by certain key vendors, including but not limited to data processing, payroll processing, technology support, investment safekeeping and accounting. Our ability to operate, as well as our financial condition and results of operations, could be negatively affected in the event of an interruption of an information system, an undetected error, a cyber breach, or in the event of a natural disaster whereby certain vendors are unable to maintain business continuity.
We May Be Adversely Affected By The Soundness Of Other Financial Institutions - Financial services institutions are interrelated as a result of trading, clearing, counterparty and other relationships. We have exposure to many different industries and counterparties, and routinely execute transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including commercial banks, broker-dealers, investment banks and other institutional clients. Many of these transactions expose us to credit risk in the event of a default by a counterparty or client. In addition, our credit risk may be exacerbated if our collateral cannot be foreclosed upon or is liquidated at prices not sufficient to recover the full amount of the credit or cover the derivative exposure due. Any such losses could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Deterioration Of Credit Quality Or Insolvency Of Insurance Companies May Impede Our Ability To Recover Losses - The financial crisis led certain major insurance companies to be downgraded by rating agencies. We have property, casualty and financial institution risk coverage underwritten by several insurance companies. In addition, some of our investments in obligations of state and political subdivisions are insured by insurance companies. While we closely monitor credit ratings of our insurers and insurers of our municipality securities, and we are poised to make quick changes if needed, we cannot predict an unexpected inability to honor commitments. We also invest in bank-owned life insurance policies on certain members of senior Management, which may lose value in the event of the carriers’ insolvency. In the event that our bank-owned life insurance policy carriers’ credit ratings fall below investment grade, we may exchange policies underwritten by them to another carrier at a cost charged by the original carrier, or we may terminate the policies that may result in adverse tax consequences.
Our loan portfolio is also primarily secured by properties located in earthquake or fire-prone zones. In the event of a disaster that causes pervasive damage to the region in which we operate, not only the Bank, but also the loan collateral may suffer losses not recovered by insurance.
Risks Associated With Our Industry
We Are Subject To Government Regulation That Could Limit Or Restrict Our Activities, Which In Turn Could Adversely Impact Our Financial Performance - The financial services industry is regulated extensively and we are subject to examination, supervision and comprehensive regulations by various regulatory agencies. Federal and state regulations are designed primarily to protect the deposit insurance funds and consumers, and not to benefit our stockholders. These regulations can sometimes impose significant limitations on our operations and increase our cost of doing business.
Further, federal monetary policy, particularly as implemented by the FRB, significantly affects economic conditions for us.
Proposals to change the laws and regulations governing the operations and taxation of, and federal insurance premiums paid by, banks and other financial institutions and companies that control such institutions are frequently raised in the U.S. Congress, the California legislature and before bank regulatory authorities. The likelihood of any major changes in the future and the impact such changes, including the Dodd-Frank Act, might have on us or the Bank are impossible to determine. Similarly, proposals to change the accounting treatment applicable to banks and other depository institutions are frequently raised by the SEC, the federal banking agencies, the IRS and other appropriate authorities. The likelihood and impact of any additional future changes in law or regulation and the impact such changes might have on us or the Bank are impossible to determine at this time.
Risks Associated With Our Stock
Our Stock Trades Less Frequently Than Others - The Company’s common stock is not widely held or listed on any exchange. However, trades are reported on the OTCQX under the symbol “FMCB.” Management is aware that there are private transactions in the Company’s common stock. However, the limited trading market for the Company’s common stock may make it difficult for stockholders to dispose of their shares.
Our Stock Price Is Affected By A Variety Of Factors - Stock price volatility may make it more difficult for you to resell your common stock when you want and at prices you find attractive. Our stock price can fluctuate significantly in response to a variety of factors discussed in this section, including, among other things:
actual or anticipated variations in quarterly results of operations;
operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors deem comparable to our Company;
news reports relating to trends, concerns and other issues in the financial services industry;
available investment liquidity in our market area since our stock is not listed on any exchange; and
perceptions in the marketplace regarding our Company and/or its competitors.
Our Common Stock Is Not An Insured Deposit - Our common stock is not a bank deposit and, therefore, is not insured against loss by the FDIC, any other deposit insurance fund or by any other public or private entity. Investment in our common stock is inherently risky for the reasons described in this “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this report and is subject to the same market forces that affect the price of common stock in any company. As a result, if you acquire our common stock, you may lose some or all of your investment.
The Company has no unresolved comments received from staff at the SEC.
Farmers & Merchants Bancorp along with its subsidiaries are headquartered in Lodi, California. Executive offices are located at 111 W. Pine Street. Banking services are provided in twenty-nine branches in the Company’s service area. Of the twenty-nine branches, nineteen are owned and ten are leased. The expiration of these leases occurs between the years 2020 and 2028. See Note 19, located in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”
Certain lawsuits and claims arising in the ordinary course of business have been filed or are pending against the Company or its subsidiaries. Based upon information available to the Company, its review of such lawsuits and claims and consultation with its counsel, the Company believes the liability relating to these actions, if any, would not have a material adverse effect on its consolidated financial statements.
There are no material proceedings adverse to the Company to which any director, officer or affiliate of the Company is a party.
Mine Safety Disclosures
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The common stock of Farmers & Merchants Bancorp is not widely held or listed on any exchange. However, trades are reported on the OTCQX under the symbol “FMCB.” Additionally, management is aware that there are private transactions in the Company’s common stock.
The following table summarizes the actual high, low, and close sale prices for the Company’s common stock since the first quarter of 2017. These figures are based on activity posted on the OTCQX and on private transactions between individual stockholders that are reported to the Company. Since there is limited trading in our stock, (See “Item 1A. Risk Factors – Risks Associated With Our Stock”) the “Close” sale prices represent the volume weighted average close prices for the last month of the quarter.
As of January 31, 2019, there were approximately 1,648 stockholders of record of the Company’s common stock. However, since approximately 15% of our common stock shares are held by brokers on behalf of stockholders, we are unable to determine the exact total number of stockholders.
The Company and, before the Company was formed, the Bank, has paid cash dividends for the past 84 consecutive years. There are limitations under Delaware corporate law as to the amounts of cash dividends that may be paid by the Company. Additionally, if we decided to defer interest on our 2003 subordinated debentures, we would be prohibited from paying cash dividends on the Company’s common stock. The Company is dependent on cash dividends paid by the Bank to fund its cash dividend payments to its stockholders. There are regulatory limitations on cash dividends that may be paid by the Bank. See “Item 1. Business – Supervision and Regulation.”
In 1998, the Board approved the Company’s first common stock repurchase program. This program has been extended and expanded several times since then, and most recently, on November 6, 2018, the Board of Directors approved an extension of the $20 million stock repurchase program over the three-year period ending December 31, 2021.
Repurchases under the program may be made from time to time on the open market or through private transactions. The repurchase program also requires that no purchases may be made if the Bank would not remain “well-capitalized” after the repurchase.
There were no stock repurchases in 2018 or 2017 under the Stock Repurchase Plan. However, in the third quarter of 2018 the Company did repurchase $31.2 million of shares, at $700 per share, in a single transaction from the estate of a large shareholder. The remaining dollar value of shares that may yet be purchased under the Company’s Common Stock Repurchase Plan is approximately $20 million.
On May 24, 2018 stockholders approved a proposal to increase our authorized shares of common stock from 7,500,000 to 40,000,000. In approving this proposal the stockholders also granted the Board discretionary authority (i.e., without further stockholder action) to determine whether to delay the proposed amendment. The Company has no immediate plans to effect the increase in the authorized shares of common stock.
On August 5, 2008, the Board of Directors approved a Share Purchase Rights Plan (the “Rights Plan”), pursuant to which the Company entered into a Rights Agreement dated August 5, 2008, with Computershare as Rights Agent, and the Company declared a dividend of a right to acquire one preferred share purchase right (a “Right”) for each outstanding share of the Company’s common stock, $0.01 par value per share, to stockholders of record at the close of business on August 15, 2008. Generally, the Rights are only triggered and become exercisable if a person or group (the “Acquiring Person”) acquires beneficial ownership of 10 percent or more of the Company’s common stock or announces a tender offer for 10 percent or more of the Company’s common stock.
The Rights Plan is similar to plans adopted by many other publicly traded companies. The effect of the Rights Plan is to discourage any potential acquirer from triggering the Rights without first convincing the Company’s Board of Directors that the proposed acquisition is fair to, and in the best interest of, all of the stockholders of the Company. The provisions of the Plan, if triggered by the Acquiring Person, will substantially dilute the equity and voting interest of any potential acquirer unless the Board of Directors approves of the proposed acquisition (under Article XV of the Company’s Certificate of Incorporation, the Board of Directors has the authority to consider any and all factors in determining whether an acquisition is in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders). Each Right, if and when exercisable, will entitle the registered holder to purchase from the Company one one-hundredth of a share of Series A Junior Participating Preferred Stock, no par value, at a purchase price of $1,200 for each one one-hundredth of a share, subject to adjustment. Each holder of a Right (except for the Acquiring Person, whose Rights will be null and void upon such event) shall thereafter have the right to receive, upon exercise, that number of Common Shares of the Company having a market value of two times the exercise price of the Right. At any time before a person becomes an Acquiring Person, the Rights can be redeemed, in whole, but not in part, by Farmers and Merchants Bancorp’s Board of Directors at a price of $0.001 per Right.
The Rights Plan was set to expire on August 5, 2018. On November 19, 2015, the Board of Directors approved a seven-year extension of the term of the Rights Plan. Pursuant to an Amendment to the Rights Agreement dated February 18, 2016, the term of the Rights Plan was extended from August 5, 2018 to August 5, 2025. The extension of the term of the Rights Plan was intended as a means to continue to guard against abusive takeover tactics and was not in response to any particular proposal. The Board also increased the purchase price under the Rights Plan to $1,600 per one one-hundredth of a preferred share from $1,200, to reflect the increase in the market price of the Company’s common stock over the past several years.
During 2018, the Company issued a combined total 13,520 shares of common stock to the Bank’s non-qualified defined contribution retirement plans. There were also 2,400 shares issued to individuals during the third quarter of 2018. All of the shares were issued at prices ranging from $635.00 to $690.00 per share based upon valuations completed during the quarter of issuance by a nationally recognized bank consulting and advisory firm and in reliance upon the exemption in Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the regulations promulgated thereunder. The proceeds were contributed to the Bank as equity capital. See Note 14, located in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”
During 2017, the Company issued 4,975 shares of common stock, which were contributed to the Bank’s non-qualified defined contribution retirement plans. The shares issued had prices ranging from $590 per share to $595 per share. These share prices were based upon valuations completed by a nationally recognized bank consulting and advisory firm and in reliance upon the exemption in Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the regulations promulgated thereunder. The proceeds from these issuances were contributed to the Bank as equity capital.
The following graph compares the Company’s cumulative total stockholder return on common stock from December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2018 to that of: (i) the Morningstar Banks Index - Regional (US) Industry Group; and (ii) the cumulative total return of the New York Stock Exchange market index. The graph assumes an initial investment of $100 on December 31, 2013 and reinvestment of dividends. The stock price performance set forth in the following graph is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. The Company’s stock price data is based on activity posted on the OTCQX and on private transactions between individual stockholders that are reported to the Company. This data was furnished by Zacks SEC Compliance Services Group.
This graph shall not be deemed filed or incorporated by reference into any filing under the Securities Act of 1933.
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Although the Company has initiated efforts to expand its geographic footprint into the East Bay area of San Francisco and Napa, California (see Item 1: Business – Service Area), the Company’s primary service area remains the mid Central Valley of California, a region that can be significantly impacted by the seasonal needs of the agricultural industry. Accordingly, discussion of the Company’s Financial Condition and Results of Operations is influenced by the seasonal banking needs of its agricultural customers (e.g., during the spring and summer customers draw down their deposit balances and increase loan borrowing to fund the purchase of equipment and planting of crops. Correspondingly, deposit balances are replenished and loans repaid in late fall and winter as crops are harvested and sold).
The Five-Year Period: 2014 through 2018
Through much of 2007 the economy in our primary service area was strong, the stock market rising and individuals and businesses doing well. Then in October 2007 the financial markets started what would become a major adjustment and an economic recession began, the impact of which is still being felt today in the Central Valley of California. The Central Valley was one of the hardest hit areas in the country during the recession. In many areas, housing prices declined as much as 60% and unemployment reached 15% or more. Although the economy has improved throughout most of the Central Valley, in many of the Company’s market segments housing prices remain below peak levels and unemployment levels remain above those in other areas of the state and country.
Despite this challenging economic environment, in management’s opinion, the Company’s operating performance over the past five years has been exceptionally strong.
We used certain non-GAAP financial measures to provide supplemental information regarding our performance in 2017. Income Tax Expense for the year ended 2017 included a one-time, non-cash $6.3 million charge related to the re-measurement of the Company’s Deferred Tax Asset (“DTA”) as a result of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. We believed that presenting Adjusted Net Income, excluding the impact of the DTA re-measurement charge, provides additional clarity to the users of financial statements regarding core financial performance and allows for a better year-over-year comparison of trends in core profitability.
(in thousands, except per share data)
Financial Performance Indicator
Pre Tax Income
Income Tax Expense
Effect of Income Tax Rate Change
Adjusted Income Tax Expense
Non-GAAP Adjusted Net Income
Effect of Income Tax Rate Change
Net Income (See Note 1)
Total Loans & Leases
Total Shareholders’ Equity
Total Risk-Based Capital Ratio
Non-Performing Loans as a % of Total Loans
Substandard Loans as a % of Total Loans
Net Charge-Offs (Recoveries) to Average Loans
Loan Loss Allowance as a % of Total Loans
Return on Average Assets
Adjusted Return on Average Assets
Return on Average Equity
Adjusted Return on Average Equity
Earnings Per Share
Adjusted Earnings Per Share
Cash Dividends Per Share
Cash Dividends Declared
Note 1 – On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law by the President. Among other things, this legislation reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% beginning January 1, 2018. Although the Company believes that this reduction in the corporate tax rate will continue to have a significant positive impact on future financial performance, U.S. generally accepted accounting principles require that all companies re-measure their DTA’s using the new lower tax rate as of the date of enactment of the legislation. As a result the Company’s net income for 2017 included a $6.3 million re-measurement reflected as a one-time, non-cash increase to income tax expense in the 4th quarter. Our situation is not unique in that the majority of all financial institutions reported significant DTA re-measurements in the 4th quarter of 2017. Excluding the impact of the $6.3 million DTA re-measurement, non-GAAP adjusted net income for the year totaled $34.6 million, an increase of $5.0 million or 16.8% over the prior year, which would have resulted in an adjusted return on average assets of 1.15% and adjusted return on average equity of 11.79%.
Management believes that the Company’s performance compared very favorably to its peer banks during the five-year period ending December 31, 2018:
Net income over the five-year period totaled $156.4 million.
Return on Average Assets averaged 1.16% over the five-year period.
Total assets increased 65.4% from $2.0 billion at December 31, 2013 to $3.4 billion at December 31, 2018.
Total loans & leases increased 85.2% from $1.4 billion at December 31, 2013 to $2.6 billion at December 31, 2018.
Total deposits increased 69.4% from $1.8 billion at December 31, 2013 to $3.1 billion at December 31, 2018.
In 2018, the Company earned $45.5 million for a return on average assets of 1.45%.
In 2018, the Company increased its cash dividend per share by 2.6% over 2017 levels, and our strong financial performance has allowed us to increase dividends every year during this five-year period.
The Company’s total risk based capital ratio was 11.40% at December 31, 2018, and the Bank achieved the highest regulatory classification of “well capitalized” in each of the previous five years. See “Financial Condition – Capital.”
The Company continued to diversify its geographic footprint by acquiring (1) Delta National Bancorp with branches in Turlock, Manteca and Riverbank; and (2) Bank of Rio Vista with branches in Rio Vista and Walnut Grove.
The Company’s asset quality remains very strong at the present time, when measured by: (1) net charge-offs at 0.03% of average loans & leases during 2018; (2) no non-accrual loans at December 31, 2018; and (3) substandard loans & leases totaling 0.57% of total loans & leases at December 31, 2018. See “Results of Operations – Provision and Allowance for Credit Losses” and “Financial Condition – Classified Loans & Leases and Non-Performing Assets.”
Because of this strong earnings performance, capital position, and asset quality, stockholders have benefited from the fact that cash dividends per share have increased 11.2% since 2013, and totaled $66.15 per share over the five-year period. The 2018 dividend of $13.90 per share represents a 2.00% yield based upon the December 31, 2018 closing stock price of $700 per share (See “Part II, Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities”).
Looking Forward: 2019 and Beyond
In management’s opinion, the following key issues will continue to influence the financial results of the Company in 2019 and future years:
The Company’s earnings are heavily dependent on its net interest margin, which is sensitive to such factors as: (1) market interest rates; (2) the mix of our earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities; and (3) competitor pricing strategies.
Since December 2015, the FRB has increased short-term market rates by 2.25%. However, market rates remain historically low, and although short-term rates may continue to increase in 2019 Management does not expect them to change significantly.
Loans increased $1.2 billion, or 85.2% over the past five years, partially as a result of our expansion into Walnut Creek, Concord and equipment leasing, as well as our acquisitions of Delta Bank and Bank of Rio Vista. However, we still face a very competitive business environment, and no assurances can be given that this recent growth in the loan & lease portfolio will continue.
Aggressive competitor pricing for loans, leases and deposits continues to require the Company to respond in order to retain key customers.
As a result of increases in short-term market interest rates, which began in 2015, the Company’s net interest margin increased from 3.88% for the year ended December 31, 2014 to 4.25% for the year ended December 31, 2018. Although the increase in short-term market interest rates has helped the Company’s loan yields, rising deposit rates and other competitor pricing pressures may adversely affect the net interest margin in 2019. See “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk - Interest Rate Risk.”
The Company’s results are impacted by changes in the credit quality of its borrowers. Substandard loans & leases totaled $14.7 million or 0.57% of total loans & leases at December 31, 2018 vs. $8.9 million or 0.40% of total loans at December 31, 2017. Management believes, based on information currently available, that these levels are adequately covered by the Company’s $55.3 million allowance for credit losses as of December 31, 2018. See “Results of Operations - Provision and Allowance for Credit Losses” and “Financial Condition – Classified Loans & Leases and Non-Performing Assets.” The Company’s provision for credit losses was $5.5 million in 2018, compared to $2.9 million in 2017 and $6.3 million in 2016. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors.”
FDIC deposit insurance expense for the years 2018, 2017, and 2016 was $912,000, $932,000, and $1.17 million, respectively. In 2011, the FDIC changed its methodology for calculating deposit premiums. See “Item 1. Business – Supervision and Regulation – Deposit Insurance.” While FDIC deposit insurance assessments have stabilized in recent years, they remain well above the pre-recession level the Company paid in 2007.
Since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, Congress has implemented broad changes to the regulation of consumer financial products and the financial services industry as a whole. These changes have, and will continue to have, a significant effect on the Company’s product offerings, pricing and profitability in areas such as debit and credit cards, home mortgages and deposit service charges.
The Company has (i) expanded its geographic footprint through denovo branch expansion in Walnut Creek, Napa and Concord, CA and through acquisition in Manteca, Riverbank, Rio Vista, and Walnut Grove, CA and (ii) established equipment leasing as a new line of business. Although Management believes that these initiatives will result in increased asset growth and earnings, along with reduced concentration risks, the start-up costs related to staff and facilities are significant and will take time to recoup.
The Company benefited significantly in 2018, and should continue to benefit in future years, from the reduction of the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% pursuant to the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis is intended to provide a better understanding of Farmers & Merchants Bancorp and its subsidiaries’ performance during each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2018 and the material changes in financial condition, operating income, and expense of the Company and its subsidiaries as shown in the accompanying financial statements.
Impact of Delta National Bancorp Acquisition on Results of Operations
On November 18, 2016, Farmers & Merchants Bancorp completed the acquisition of Delta National Bancorp. Since the acquisition took place late in the year, and Delta National Bancorp had only $112 million in assets (less than 4% of Farmers & Merchants Bancorp’s total assets), the post-acquisition impact on the Company’s 2016 Results of Operations was immaterial with the exception of a Bargain Purchase Gain of $1.83 million that was booked as non-interest income and $910,000 in acquisition expenses that were booked as non-interest expense.
Impact of Bank of Rio Vista Acquisition on Results of Operations
On October 10, 2018, Farmers & Merchants Bancorp completed the acquisition of Bank of Rio Vista. Since the acquisition took place late in the year, and Bank of Rio Vista had only $217.5 million in assets (less than 6% of Farmers & Merchants Bancorp’s total assets), the impact on the Company’s 2018 Results of Operations was limited with the exception of legal fees, contract termination costs and systems conversion costs that were booked as non-interest expense by the Company in 2018. The gross amount of such expenses were $2.93 million (see Note 2, located in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data”).
The tables on the following pages reflect the Company’s average balance sheets and volume and rate analysis for the years ending 2018, 2017 and 2016. Average balance amounts for assets and liabilities are the computed average of daily balances.
Net interest income is the amount by which the interest and fees on loans & leases and other interest-earning assets exceed the interest paid on interest-bearing sources of funds. For the purpose of analysis, the interest earned on tax-exempt investments and municipal loans is adjusted to an amount comparable to interest subject to normal income taxes. This adjustment is referred to as “tax equivalent” adjustment and is noted wherever applicable. The presentation of net interest income and net interest margin on a tax equivalent basis is a common practice within the banking industry.
The Volume and Rate Analysis of Net Interest Income summarizes the changes in interest income and interest expense based on changes in average asset and liability balances (volume) and changes in average rates (rate). For each category of interest-earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities, information is provided with respect to changes attributable to: (1) changes in volume (change in volume multiplied by initial rate); (2) changes in rate (change in rate multiplied by initial volume); and (3) changes in rate/volume, also called “changes in mix” (allocated in proportion to the respective volume and rate components).
The Company’s earning assets and rate sensitive liabilities are subject to repricing at different times, which exposes the Company to income fluctuations when interest rates change. In order to minimize income fluctuations, the Company attempts to match asset and liability maturities. However, some maturity mismatch is inherent in the asset and liability mix. See “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk - Interest Rate Risk.”
(Interest and Rates on a Taxable Equivalent Basis)
Year Ended December 31, 2018
Interest Bearing Deposits with Banks
U.S. Govt SBA
Government Agency & Government-Sponsored Entities
Municipals - Taxable
Obligations of States and Political Subdivisions - Non-Taxable
Mortgage Backed Securities
Total Investment Securities
Loans & Leases
Home Equity Lines and Loans
Total Loans & Leases
Total Earning Assets
Unrealized Gain on Securities Available-for-Sale
Allowance for Credit Losses
Cash and Due From Banks
All Other Assets
Liabilities & Shareholders’ Equity
Interest Bearing Deposits
Interest Bearing DDA
Savings and Money Market
Total Interest Bearing Deposits
Federal Home Loan Bank Advances
Total Interest Bearing Liabilities
Interest Rate Spread
All Other Liabilities
Total Liabilities & Shareholders’ Equity
Impact of Non-Interest Bearing Deposits and Other Liabilities
Net Interest Income and Margin on Total Earning Assets
Tax Equivalent Adjustment
Net Interest Income
Notes: Yields on municipal securities have been calculated on a fully taxable equivalent basis. Loan interest income includes fee income and unearned discount in the amount of $5.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. Non-accrual loans and lease financing receivables have been included in the average balances. Yields on securities available-for-sale are based on historical cost.
(Interest and Rates on a Taxable Equivalent Basis)
Year Ended December 31, 2017
Interest Bearing Deposits with Banks
U.S. Govt SBA
Government Agency & Government-Sponsored Entities
Obligations of States and Political Subdivisions - Non-Taxable
Mortgage Backed Securities
Total Investment Securities
Loans & Leases
Home Equity Lines and Loans
Total Loans & Leases
Total Earning Assets
Unrealized Gain on Securities Available-for-Sale
Allowance for Credit Losses
Cash and Due From Banks
All Other Assets
Liabilities & Shareholders’ Equity
Interest Bearing Deposits
Interest Bearing DDA
Savings and Money Market
Total Interest Bearing Deposits
Federal Home Loan Bank Advances
Total Interest Bearing Liabilities
Interest Rate Spread
All Other Liabilities
Total Liabilities & Shareholders’ Equity
Impact of Non-Interest Bearing Deposits and Other Liabilities
Net Interest Income and Margin on Total Earning Assets
Tax Equivalent Adjustment
Net Interest Income
Notes: Yields on municipal securities have been calculated on a fully taxable equivalent basis. Loan interest income includes fee income and unearned discount in the amount of $4.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2017. Non-accrual loans and lease financing receivables have been included in the average balances. Yields on securities available-for-sale are based on historical cost.