WESTERLY — The Washington Trust Bancorp Inc., parent company of the Westerly-based regional bank, on Monday reported record full-year earnings in 2018 of $68.4 million, compared with $45.9 million in 2017.
Chairman and CEO Edward O. Handy III also reported all-time-high levels of deposits, at $3.5 billion, up 9 percent from the end of 2017, and $3.7 million of loans, also a record for the bank. The corporation's results were aided by the tax cut law that went into effect last year and reduced its effective tax rate from more than 30 percent in 2017 to 21.1 percent in 2018.
For the fourth quarter, net income was $17 million, or 98 cents per share, compared with net income of $8 million, or 46 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2017 (earnings for the last quarter in 2017 were reduced by a write-down associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act).
Assets totaled $5 billion at the end of 2018.
In a conference call with securities analysts on Tuesday, Handy said the bank had had "good success in generating deposits through our organic growth." He also noted that the Coventry office, which opened in the fall of 2016, now had more than $16 million in deposits, and that the bank's new branch in North Providence was a source of optimism.
"North Providence is a densely populated town with lots of small businesses and rooftops offering plenty of opportunities for a community bank," he said.
The company's shares closed Tuesday at $51.31 per share, down $2.11 for the day and well off their 52-week high of $63.25. With the dividend now at $1.88, the stock was yielding 3.52 percent.
Washington Trust's 2019 annual meeting of shareholders will be held on Tuesday, April 23, at 11 a.m. at the Westerly Library. Shareholders of record as of the close of business on Feb. 28 are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
Some material from this article is from a Seeking Alpha transcript of the earnings call.