Diluted earnings per share were 43 cents, compared with 40 cents for the same period a year ago.
According to the company, the 7.5 percent increase in earnings per share reflected the impact of a common stock offering completed in the fourth quarter.
“The first quarter of 2004 was an exceptional one for us, especially in light of the fact that first quarters have almost always been our most difficult in terms of asset and earnings growth as current customers begin assessing and implementing their plans for the ensuing year and new expenses come on line for the bank,” remarked Gerald Johnson Jr., chairman and CEO.
He said the just-passed quarter was one of the strongest income and loan growth first quarters the bank has ever had and probably one of the strongest quarters in its history.
Loans increased by $75 million during the quarter, compared to loan growth of $40 million in the first quarter of last year.
“This is especially significant when you consider that many financial institutions, especially those that concentrate on commercial lending, are disclosing that significant loan growth was difficult if not impossible to achieve in the first quarter.”
Local deposits were $41 million from the beginning of the year, representing an annualized growth rate of 53 percent, said CFO Charles Christmas.
Johnson said Mercantile’s first quarter growth sets it up for continued strong operating performance throughout the balance of the year.
Total revenue was $10.5 million in the first quarter, up 35.5 percent over the $7.8 million earned during the first quarter of 2003. Total assets were $1.3 billion at March 31, an increase of $325.6 million, or 33.6 percent, over the year ago quarter.
Mercantile established a banking office at a temporary location in Holland this past year and is now constructing a 30,000-square-foot, full-service banking center on 16th Street there. The new facility is scheduled for completion in late 2004.
Construction of Mercantile’s new 60,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids is underway and slated for completion in mid-2005.