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First Niagara meets expectations for Q3 net income

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. on Friday reported net income available to common shareholders of $52.9 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, in the third quarter. Earnings matched analyst expectations.

That compared with a net loss of $927.6 million, or $2.65 a share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2014. The Buffalo-based holding company for First Niagara Bank said that included a $1.1 billion non-cash goodwill impairment charge and a $45 million reserve. Excluding non-recurring costs, operating net income available to common shareholders for the year-ago quarter was $66.5 million, or 19 cents a share.

"Our business fundamentals were strong, as evidenced by a 10 percent annualized increase in average transactional deposits and 10 percent increase in commercial business loans,” President and CEO Gary Crosby said in a statement. “We also continued to make great progress in implementing our strategic investments, which remain on-time, on-budget and are focused on delivering enhanced products and services, based on customer preferences.”

Shares of First Niagara stock (Nasdaq: FNFG) were trading up slightly midday Friday at $10.60 a share. The stock closed Thursday at $10.56.

During a conference call with analysts, company leaders declined to comment on recent reports First Niagara is exploring options, including a possible sale.

(c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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