Sterling Bancorp, the parent company of New York City-based Sterling National Bank, today reported that net income grew to $16.0 million for 2008, from $14.6 million for 2007. Earnings per share on a diluted basis for 2008 rose to $0.88, an increase of 11.4% from $0.79 per share a year ago.

2008 Highlights: -- Earnings Growth - The 11.4% rise in diluted EPS for 2008 was primarily driven by an increase in net interest income due to higher balances of loans and other interest-earning assets, as well as management's focus on pricing of assets and liabilities to enhance the net interest margin. -- Strong ROE - Sterling's return on average tangible equity was 16.52% for 2008. -- Higher Net Interest Margin - The net interest margin, on a tax-equivalent basis, was 4.60%, up 11 basis points from a year ago. -- Increased Loan Volume - Loans held in portfolio averaged $1,141.4 million for 2008, an increase of 6.7% from a year ago. -- Solid Core Deposits - Demand deposits averaged $448.2 million for the year, equivalent to 36.0% of total deposits as of December 31, 2008. -- Sound Asset Quality - The ratio of nonperforming assets to total assets at December 31, 2008 was 0.40%, compared to 0.42% at the end of the third quarter and 0.40% at December 31, 2007. -- Strong Capital Base - Sterling's capital ratios exceeded regulatory requirements for a well-capitalized institution, with total risk-based capital of 13.56% at December 31, 2008.

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