Benchmark reports earnings

Published 11:49 am Friday, May 1, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. (BMBN), the Kenbridge-based holding company for Benchmark Community Bank, announced unaudited results for the first quarter of 2020. Net income of $2,110,986 was up from the $2,100,083 earned during the first quarter of 2019, while earnings per share increased from $0.42 to $0.47 for the period.

“Lending activity through the first two months of the year was business as usual,” observed Jay A. Stafford, president and CEO. “However, March was a different story. The turmoil created by COVID-19 limited overall banking activity across our markets.

“Early efforts began in mid-March to serve our customers while providing a healthy environment for both our customers and employees have resulted in our continuing to be busy,” Stafford said. “We transitioned lobby operations to our drive-ups and immediately began assisting customers in connecting to our internet banking, BCB mobile app, and using our ATMs and telephone banking. Our night depositories are being processed throughout the business day rather than only in the mornings. Together these efforts are allowing us to continue serving our customers while trying to keep everyone healthy.” The federal government’s CARES Act adopted on March 27, 2020, provided an additional opportunity for the bank to serve business customers adversely impacted by the COVID-19 event.”

“We began working on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in late March,” Stafford said. “After several days of working with the SBA to determine the rules of the program, we were able to begin taking applications on Tuesday, April 7. By April 16, the quick action and tireless work from people across the bank resulted in our closing over 450 loans totaling approximately $28 million.”

Notable Items:

A change to the bank’s payroll accounting led to an increased accrual for payroll expenses of $166,000 for the quarter.

A total of $224,589 was provisioned to the loan loss reserve during the quarter. No provision was made during the first quarter of 2019.

Interest expense on borrowings, used to support the stock repurchase program, amounted to $78,062 for the period. No expense was recognized last year during the same period.

Total loans are up $16.54 million for the quarter, with total loans up by $60.76 million over the last 12 months.

Deposit growth during the first quarter amounted to $1.94 million, with total deposits up $7.74 million over the past 12 months.

A new full-service branch in Henderson, North Carolina was opened during the quarter, with preparation underway to move the downtown Farmville branch to a new location during the second quarter.

Key Financial Ratios:

Return on average equity (ROAE) increased from 11.76% to 12.08% and Return on average assets (ROAA) decreased from 1.28% to 1.19% for the quarter.

Yield on loans decreased from 5.57% to 5.46%.

The bank’s cost of funds increased from 0.56% to 0.63%.

Net interest margin was down from 4.64% to 4.49%.

As of March 31, the current book value of the company was $15.72 per share compared to $14.65 one year ago. The closing share price at quarter-end was $14.50 per share, which represents a price to book trading ratio of 92.23%. The common stock of Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. trades on the OTC Pink marketplace under the symbol BMBN. Any stockbroker can assist with purchases of the company’s stock, as well as with sales of holdings.

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is headquartered in Kenbridge, and is the company’s sole subsidiary which operates a total of 17 banking offices throughout central Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina. Additional information is available at the company’s website, www.