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BANKING First Place successful



Published: Sat, July 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



WARREN -- First Place Financial Corp. reported earnings of $1.30 per share for the fiscal year 2005 on Thursday, an increase of 19.3 percent over a year ago.

The company reported net income of $18.9 million for the 2005 fiscal year, which ended June 30. That's a 33.8 percent increase over 2004's net income of $14.2 million.

In a news release, company officials credited the improved performance to stability of assets and a decrease in the percentage of charge-offs and nonperforming loans.

Company officials also reported a 40.9 percent increase in commercial loan balances and a strong volume of mortgage loans, with origination volume up 7.4 percent over last year.

"Fiscal 2005 has been our most successful year ever in the lending area," company CEO Steven R. Lewis said

"Our expansion of commercial lending into the Cleveland and southeastern Michigan markets has been very successful."

Net income for the quarter was $6 million and earnings per share was 41 cents, compared with $6.6 million and 45 cents per share in the previous quarter.

Lewis said that the company's financial position was improved by the May 2004 acquisition of Franklin Bancorp Inc.

"A full year of the Franklin division's operations has contributed to our transition into a diverse banking franchise with a balanced loan mix," he said.

Lewis said the company opened three new loan centers in high-growth areas in Indiana and Michigan in fiscal year 2005.




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