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TGI Spring! Banks Upbeat After Winter's Wallop

Bankers are optimistic that they will bounce back after a harsh winter in almost every part of the country raised their snow removal costs, slashed mortgage income and slowed overall customer activity.

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OceanFirst Financial, Toms River, N.J. OceanFirst Financial, Toms River, N.J.

Snow slowed down surveyors and planners, which put a chill on construction lending, CEO Chris Maher said during a quarterly conference call. "I do think the weather had an impact there," he said. "We think that will strengthen probably a little bit in future quarters."

First Merchants, Muncie, Ind. First Merchants, Muncie, Ind. The company reported weak mortgage volumes in the first quarter, but Chief Financial Officer Mark Hardwick said in a conference call that activity started to rebound in late March as weather improved.

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Chemical Financial, Midland, Mich. Chemical Financial, Midland, Mich.

The company's fee income fell 15% from a year earlier, and CEO David Ramaker said part of the decline was due to decreased consumer activity and a higher occupancy expenses "as an exceptionally cold and snowy winter across Michigan impacted consumer behavior."

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Wintrust Financial, Rosemont, Ill. Wintrust Financial, Rosemont, Ill.

Wintrust has a national mortgage platform and the "Arctic weather" across the country pushed mortgage revenues "off a cliff" during the first quarter, CEO Ed Wehmer said. "We will talk to you again, when, hopefully, it is warm in July," he said at the close of his company's conference call.

BB&T, Winston-Salem, N.C. BB&T, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Nasty snowstorms discouraged people from house hunting, Kelly King, chairman and CEO of BB&T, said during a conference call. "People didn't even go out of their houses to look for houses," he said. "As you get into spring, people will be back out."

Trustmark, Jackson, Miss. Trustmark, Jackson, Miss. Echoing comments from BB&T's King, executives at Trustmark noted that customers spent a considerable amount of time snowbound. Because of "fairly severe weather" the company "saw less swipes on the debit card," Chief Financial Officer Louis Greer said.

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Fulton Financial, Lancaster, Pa. Fulton Financial, Lancaster, Pa.

At Fulton, branch closures tied to winter weather are usually limited to Pennsylvania, CEO Phil Wenger said during a recent conference call. "This year, we had weather-related events in every area that we operate in," including New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. "It just seemed like we never had the whole operation open."

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Investors Bancorp, Short Hills, N.J. Investors Bancorp, Short Hills, N.J.

The company reported $1.3 million in winter-related expenses in the first quarter, with most of the costs tied to snow removal, CEO Kevin Cummings said during a conference call.

Bankers are optimistic that they will bounce back after a harsh winter in almost every part of the country raised their snow removal costs, slashed mortgage income and slowed overall customer activity.

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