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The company projects third quarter earnings of 31 to 33 cents per share.



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



The company projects third quarter earnings of 31 to 33 cents per share.

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The chief executive officer of F.N.B. Corp. says the banking and financial services company plans to continue a conservative strategy of acquisitions with emphasis on expanding its commercial loans.

Stephen Gurgovits discussed F.N.B.'s second-quarter earnings report in a conference call from its headquarters on Friday morning. F.N.B. reported earnings of 31 cents a share, up 10.7 percent over the first quarter, and a net income of $17.5 million, a 17.4 percent increase over the first quarter.

Total revenue increased 3 percent over the previous quarter, while expenses decreased by 4 percent.

During the second quarter, F.N.B. announced the pending acquisition of North East Banc Shares, a financial services company with $69 million in assets and four branches in eastern Erie County.

Gurgovits said the acquisition should be finalized by mid-October and that it's another expansion of the company into an area where it had little or no presence. He said the company seeks more opportunities to expand operations.

"We plan to use acquisitions to grow each line of business," he said. "But we're trying to be extra selective in merger candidates. We've passed on twice as many opportunities as we've closed."

Loan growth

The CEO said that the company's commercial and direct installment loan portfolios have grown by 6.7 percent during the quarter, contributing to the reported income growth.

"We anticipate the commercial loan growth will continue for the remainder of the year," Gurgovits said.

The CEO said he "remains comfortable" with the company's own third quarter projections, which call for earnings per share of 31 to 33 cents. Projections for the fiscal year are for earnings of $1.23 to $1.26 per share, he said.

F.N.B.'s stock price closed at $20.99 Friday, up 3.04 percent in the first day's trading since the earnings report was released after the market closed Thursday.




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