Profit soared at First Republic Bank in the fourth quarter due to strong loan originations and continued growth in fee-based business, as the bank added a new subsidiary and prepared to redeem about $200 million in preferred stock.
The $73.3 billion-asset bank on Friday reported net income of $179.1 million, an increase of 27.9% over the fourth quarter of 2015. Total revenue was $599.5 million, up 21.1% from the year before.
Total deposits, of which 63.7% are in checking accounts, stood at $58.6 billion as of Dec. 31, up 22.4% from a year earlier.
First Republic has spent the year growing its wealth management business. Noninterest income rose by 20.7% from the fourth quarter of 2015 to $108.8 million. The growth was due mainly to wealth management revenue of $78.9 million, up 18.8% from the same period last year.
The San Francisco private bank saw $7.9 billion of loan originations in the fourth quarter, an increase of 68.1% from the prior-year quarter. Total loans outstanding, excluding loans held for sale, increased by 4.3%, to $52 billion, from the end of 2015.
Net chargeoffs for the quarter were only $207,000 despite the record originations, though the bank added $10.5 million to its allowance for loan losses as a result of the loan growth.
Noninterest expenses grew by 19.7% from the prior-year quarter, with most of the increase due to growth in salaries and employee benefits. They totaled $201.1 million, up from $168.4 million during the same period in 2015. Earlier this year, First Republic made the decision to increase the minimum wage for all its employees, including interns, to $20 an hour.
Alongside high profits, First Republic in the fourth quarter acquired Gradifi, a Boston company specializing in student debt repayment benefit plans, and made it a wholly owned subsidiary of the bank.
Although the acquisition will not immediately benefit earnings, the bank sees Gradifi as a "long-term strategic opportunity to address the student-debt challenge overall," Jim Herbert, the bank's chairman and CEO, said during a conference call Friday.
The bank completed another offering of common stock in the fourth quarter, making the new capital raised in 2016 a total of $1 billion. It also issued a notice of redemption for $199.5 million of Series A preferred stock. The shares will be redeemed on Jan. 30.