Mercantiles Quarterly Net Soars

    WYOMING — Mercantile Bank Corp. reported fourth quarter 2003 net income of $3 million, a 32 percent increase over fourth quarter 2002 net income.

    Earnings per share for the quarter were 44 cents, compared to 41 cents for 2002’s fourth quarter.

    Net income for fiscal 2003 was a record $10 million, up 29 percent over 2002 year-end results.

    Diluted earnings per share for the fiscal year increased nearly 20 percent over the prior year to $1.69.

    Total revenue for fiscal 2003 was $35.7 million, up from $26.7 million earned in 2002.

    Total assets were $1.2 billion at Dec. 31, an increase of $281 million, or 30 percent, over total assets at year-end 2002.

    Chairman and CEO Gerald Johnson Jr. observed that out of approximately 180 banks in Michigan, only 42 of them — or 23 percent — exceeded $281 million in assets.

    Among other highlights of the year as outlined by Johnson, the company:

    • Did $1.3 billion in loans in 2003, representing a $264 million increase over 2002.
    • Raised $42.8 million in net proceeds from the sale of common stock.
    • Broke ground last month on its 60,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids.
    • Opened a new branch at Knapp’s Corner on East Beltline Avenue.
    • Was added to the Russell 3000 Index.
    • Was again included in Fortune magazine’s list of 100 fastest-growing small businesses.
    • Paid its first cash dividend in 2003.
    • Opened a mortgage loan production office in Holland.
    • Began construction of a 20,000-square-foot, full-service banking center in Holland that will replace its retail mortgage loan production office there this fall.

    “And lastly, but near and dear to all of us, our stock price appreciated 62 percent,” Johnson said. “It was up $13.98 to close the year at $36.50.

    “All in all, this was an outstanding year for Mercantile Bank Corp., both from an earnings standpoint and also from the standpoint that we achieved many of our strategic goals.”

    President and COO Michael Price said Mercantile’s pace of growth was not only exceptional in 2003, but the nature of the growth was “very gratifying.”

    As he noted, several well established, high profile West Michigan firms left long-standing banking relationships and switched to Mercantile for their financial services needs.

    “The impact was very positive in many ways. From a credit quality standpoint, these long-standing businesses typically have strong management teams and they don’t cheat.

    “But also, from a marketing standpoint, these high profile conversions to Mercantile further established us as the bank of choice for businesses in West Michigan.”

    Though Mercantile is becoming a bigger and bigger player in the Grand Rapids market, Price said, the company still has a lot of room to grow here.

    Johnson said the move into the Holland market was a good one for the bank, but emphasized that it was not done because bank officials felt Mercantile’s growth in Grand Rapids was slowing down.

    Asked at a recent teleconference whether Mercantile has any plans to “move up the coast” toward Grand Haven, Muskegon and other Lakeshore areas, Johnson said it will depend on how the model Mercantile set up in Holland works out.

    “We think it’s going to be very successful,” he responded. “And if it is, that certainly could be a natural strategy.”

    He said the company has looked at a number of acquisition possibilities but has never found anything that was accretive to Mercantile shareholders.

    “Because of that, we think maybe this de novo branching could be a good strategy. Time will tell, and it really won’t take that much time as far as determining whether this is a good strategy for us.”           

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