Net income for the quarter was $144.1 million, or $2.65 diluted earnings per share, versus $34.5 million, or $0.63 diluted earnings per share, for the 2018 first quarter. The increase in net income for 2019 was due to a decrease of $134.5 million in the provision for loan losses, nearly all attributable to the New York City taxi medallion portfolio.
Excluding write-downs for the taxi medallion portfolio, net income for the 2018 first quarter would have been $146.8 million, or $2.69 diluted earnings per share. Additionally, prepayment penalty income for the 2019 first quarter was $2.4 million, down $4.3 million from the 2018 first quarter.
Net interest income for the 2019 first quarter reached $319 million, up $0.9 million or 0.3% when compared with the 2018 first quarter. This increase is primarily due to growth in average interest-earning assets.
Total assets reached $48.55 billion at March 31, 2019, an increase of $4.11 billion or 9.3% from $44.44 billion at March 31, 2018. Average assets for the 2019 first quarter reached $47.86 billion, an increase of $4.19 billion, or 9.6%, compared with the 2018 first quarter.
“The past several quarters have been extremely productive for Signature Bank as we build for the future. During this time, we started two best-in-class divisions — the Fund Banking Division and the Venture Banking Group — while also commencing our West Coast operations with the opening of our San Francisco private client banking office. Additionally, we launched Signet, our proprietary, blockchain-based digital real time payments platform. We have added qualified colleagues to our team across the board to support all of these new business initiatives. We embarked on these pertinent growth initiatives simultaneously as we believe they will all contribute to strengthening our franchise and help position the Bank for continued success,” said Joseph J. DePaolo, Signature co-founder, president and CEO.
Other highlights from Q1 included:
Loans increased $1.04 billion, or 2.9%, to $37.47 billion. Since the end of Q1/2018, loans have increased 12.7%, or $4.22 billion.
Non-accrual loans were $94.7 million, or 0.25% of total loans, versus $108.6 million, or 0.30%, at the end of the 2018 fourth quarter and $168.7 million, or 0.51%, at the end of the 2018 first quarter, excluding taxi medallion loans, which were all placed on non-accrual in the 2017 second quarter, non-accrual loans were $18.6 million, or five basis points of total loans.
In the 2019 first quarter, the bank appointed one private client banking team and announced its entry into venture banking with the hiring of a 20+ person team. Thus far in the 2019 second quarter, the bank has hired one additional private client banking team for its San Francisco office.
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