Daily News: February 13, 2015

SNL Financial: Net Interest Margin Squeezes Bank Profits in 2014

Bank profits did not grow in 2014, as increasing noninterest expenses cut into income and net interest margins contracted, making it difficult to beat the record-high net income earned by banks in 2013, according to a recent SNL Financial report.

Following peak periods of net income in the second quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2013, the U.S. banking industry’s quarterly aggregate net income declined to $36.96 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014 from $38.45 billion earned in the third quarter and $39.88 billion earned in the fourth quarter of 2013. On an annual basis, banks earned $152.63 billion in 2014, down from $154.34 billion in 2013, according to data filed in call reports compiled by SNL Financial.

Banks continued to grow bigger than ever, with total loans and leases reaching another record high of $8.309 trillion at Dec. 31, 2014. Loans and leases totaled $8.159 trillion at Sept. 30, 2014, and $7.892 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2013. Total loans and leases at the end of 2014 were the highest since SNL began tracking the data in 1991.

The growth in loans corresponded with a growth in the loan-loss provision, which totaled $8.22 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $7.20 billion in the third quarter and $7.34 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013. Still, the overall provision for loan losses in full year 2014 was the lowest since full year 2006. Banks set aside $29.74 billion in 2014 for loan losses, down from $32.44 billion in 2013. In 2006, as the real estate loan bubble was just beginning to crack, banks set aside just $29.69 billion for loan losses.

Keep reading the full report and analysis here.