Farmers CEO Says Company is Exceeding Expectations

Farmers ‘Exceeds Expectations,’ CEO Tells Shareholders

CANFIELD, Ohio – Farmers National Banc Corp. continues to exceed expectations and break records, CEO Kevin Helmick told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Thursday afternoon.

“2017 was truly a historic year for Farmers,” Helmick said to those gathered at St. Michael’s Parish Center. “We set records of assets and net income at our bank and our trust company.”

Farmers National Banc Corp. is the holding company of Farmers Bank and Farmers Trust Co.

In 2017, Farmers reported a full-year net income of $22.7 million, or 82 cents a share, a 10.5% increase from the 2016 net income of $20.5 million, or 76 cents a share.

Total asset size grew to $2.2 billion at Dec. 31, said Carl Culp, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“We continue to grow and put up really great performance metrics. Farmers exceeded expectations in 2017 and we look forward to achieving and exceeding expectations in 2018 as well,” Helmick said.

More than 84% of the 27.6 million shares – or 23.4 million shares – were voted during the meeting. Shareholders approved the re-election of four directors, voted to increase the authorized number of shares from 35 million to 50 million, approved on an advisory basis the compensation of the company’s executive officers and ratified the appointment of Crowe Horwath LLP of Chicago as outside auditors for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31.

The four elected officers to serve three years  on the board of directors are Lance Ciroli, Anne Frederick Crawford, David Paul and James Smail.

Culp highlighted Farmers’ 2017 earnings at the meeting. “We’ve experienced double-digit growth in our loan portfolio,” he began.

Total loans reached $1.6 billion at the end of 2017, compared to $1.4 billion at Dec. 31, 2016. The loan growth was seen across all loan types, Culp noted.

“And our deposit base has grown by over 5%, which will allow us to continue to invest in our communities by making loans to consumers, small businesses and farmers,” he said.

Culp touched on the first-quarter earning results released Wednesday. First-quarter net income was $7.7 million, or 28 cents a share. This compares to first-quarter 2017 net income of $5.7 million, or 21 cents a share. Farmers continued its streak of 141 quarters of profitability, Culp said, and loan growth remains very strong.

“Loans grew 9.4% compared to the same time 12 months ago,” he said. “By looking at these results, we are very encouraged by what we see and we certainly look forward to the remainder of the year.”

Shareholders’ value has increased too over the past couple years, Helmick said, with stock prices increasing 77% since 2014 and dividends increasing 75% over the past two years.

For 2018, Helmick expects Farmers to keep growing through a methodical and strategic approach, he said. This approach includes initiatives run by three executives: Amber Wallace, executive vice president and chief retail and marketing officer; Mark Witmer, chief banking officer; and Mark Wenick, chief wealth management officer.

A video played at the meeting highlighted each of their efforts for the bank.

Wallace is responsible for taking the bank into new markets and optimizing its branch portfolio. The biggest change in retail banking in 2018 for Farmers is that its branches will be moving toward having universal bankers versed in many products instead of just a traditional teller role.

“This way the banker can give consultative advice to its customers,” Wallace said.

With Wallace’s help, Farmers expanded its footprint by opening a new loan production office in Beachwood in the fall. Wallace noted that consumer lending in 2017 reached $31 million and business lending hit $21 million.

Witmer is accountable for increasing the deposits at the bank. He has improved the loan process by bringing in new technology through the Small Business Express program and Commercial Dealer Express program in 2017.

“By taking advantage of this, we have streamlined our entire loan process,” Witmer said.

Small Business Express users grew by 43% in the last year. The program is used for commercial loans of $400,000 or less, which Farmers can make a quick decision on, Witmer said. Mortgage lending was averaged 33 days to close in residential mortgage loans, he noted.

Wenick is working to integrate and rebrand wealth management at Farmers to “Wealth Management 360.” The division includes Farmers Trust Co., Farmers National Insurance, Farmers National Investments, National Associates Inc. and the private banking group. Wealth Management 360 integrates them seamlessly to make the private bankers a single point of contact, Wenick said.

“Our private bankers will become the spotlight for the flag-bearers for wealth management,” Wenick said. “Their role will be to sit with our clients, assess their needs and present all the options available to satisfy their needs utilizing all their business partners.”

Pictured: Carl Culp, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of Farmers, and CEO Kevin Helmick address shareholders.

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