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Community Bank System Reports Strong Third Quarter Operating Results

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Community Bank System, Inc. (NYSE:CBU) reported third quarter 2014 net income of $22.4 million, an increase of 1.7% compared with $22.0 million earned for the third quarter of 2013. Diluted earnings per share totaled $0.54 for the third quarter of 2014, consistent with the level reported in the third quarter of 2013. Third quarter 2014’s results included a $2.8 million litigation settlement charge, or $0.05 per share. Excluding the litigation settlement charge, operating earnings for the quarter were $0.59 per share. Year-to-date net income increased by $4.9 million, or 7.7%, and earnings per share of $1.65 were $0.09, or 5.8% higher than the first nine months of 2013.

“Our third quarter and year-to-date operating performance continued to be at very favorable levels and were characterized by solid revenue growth, organic expansion of the loan portfolio, a continuation of our stable and favorable asset quality profile and effective operating expense management,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Tryniski. “We continue to focus on building additional value into our enterprise through selective acquisitions, disciplined lending and a consistent approach to business regardless of economic conditions. In July we increased our quarterly dividend by 7.1% to $0.30 per share, marking the twenty-second consecutive year of dividend increases for the Company. We believe that this demonstrates the Company’s commitment to the payment of a meaningful and growing dividend as an important component of providing consistent and favorable long-term returns to our shareholders.”

Total revenue for the third quarter of 2014 was $92.5 million, an increase of $4.3 million, or 4.8%, over the third quarter of 2013. Higher revenue was generated as a result of a 3.0% increase in average earning assets and continued strong noninterest income generation which more than offset a five basis point margin decline from the prior year quarter. Continued organic growth drove a $2.2 million, or 16.3% increase in the Company’s revenue from its wealth management and employee benefit services businesses. Revenue from deposit and other banking services, and mortgage banking increased $1.3 million year-over-year, while revenues increased $0.9 million from the linked quarter due to normal seasonal activity and the Company’s annual dividend from its participation in pooled retail insurance programs. Year-over-year revenue growth was supported by an increased core deposit account base resulting from solid organic growth in addition to the successful integration of eight branch locations acquired in Pennsylvania in late 2013. The quarterly provision for loan losses of $1.7 million was $0.3 million lower than the third quarter of 2013, reflective of lower levels of net charge-offs and improved non-performing and delinquent loan ratios. Total operating expenses of $58.8 million for the quarter were $3.8 million higher than the third quarter of 2013, and included the previously-mentioned $2.8 million litigation settlement charge. Excluding the litigation settlement charge, the additional $1.0 million of recurring operating expenses in the current quarter compared to the third quarter of 2013 were driven primarily by the additional operating costs associated with the branch acquisition completed in December 2013.

Third quarter 2014 net interest income was $61.4 million, an increase of $0.8 million, or 1.3%, compared to the third quarter of 2013. In addition to the $0.6 million benefit to interest expense from an improved funding mix, growth in net interest income was driven by a $2.1 million decrease in borrowing interest expense resulting from last year’s balance sheet repositioning actions. These actions contributed significantly to the lowering of the cost of borrowed funds by 115 basis points, year-over-year. Improved funding costs were offset by a 22-basis decline in earning asset yields, driven by lower blended interest rates on loans and investment securities. While average loan balances grew $194.5 million, or 4.9%, average loan yields declined 28 basis points year-over-year, resulting in a $0.7 million reduction in loan income. Investment income was $1.1 million lower than the third quarter of 2013 as average investment securities balance (including cash equivalents) declined by $1.8 million, while yields fell 15 basis points.

Third quarter noninterest income increased $3.5 million to $31.1 million, representing an increase of 12.6% compared to last year’s third quarter. Income expanded across virtually all banking and financial services categories, with the lone exception being a $0.2 million decline in mortgage banking-related revenues. Financial services revenue again reached record levels as wealth management revenues increased $0.8 million or 20.7% over third quarter 2013, while employee benefit services revenue grew 14.4% to $10.8 million. Strong customer expansion and market momentum from 2013 continued in the first nine months of 2014 and drove the improved performance. Deposit service revenues grew $1.1 million, or 8.9%, to $13.8 million, reflecting solid core deposit account growth as a result of the branch acquisition and organic growth initiatives across the franchise. Income from other banking services increased $0.4 million from the third quarter of 2013 primarily from increased insurance programs-related gains.

Third quarter 2014 operating expenses of $56.0 million (excluding the litigation settlement charge of $2.8 million), increased $1.0 million, or 1.8% over the third quarter of 2013. Occupancy and equipment costs grew $0.2 million, or 2.6%, primarily as a result of the December 2013 branch acquisition. Salaries and employee benefits grew $0.5 million, or 1.6%, and included the additional personnel from the branch acquisition as well as planned merit increases. These increases were partially offset by lower retirement plan expenses related to plan asset performance and discount rate changes. Other expenses increased 2.4% and reflected the increased costs of operating an expanded franchise and continued investment in technology infrastructure. Total operating expenses for the third quarter of 2014 included an accrual of $2.8 million with respect to the settlement of a pending class action lawsuit involving the sufficiency of consumer notice requirements for certain of the Company’s collateral recovery activities, similar to other class actions filed against a number of other financial institutions over the last four years. The Company contests the allegations and asserted affirmative defenses to the claims, however, the settlement the Company was able to achieve was, in its judgment, a superior outcome for shareholders when measured against the risks and resources required for litigation. The settlement is subject to final court approval.

The third quarter 2014 effective income tax rate of 29.9% increased compared to 29.2% in last year’s third quarter, reflecting a higher proportion of income being generated from fully taxable sources.

Financial Position

Average earning assets of $6.67 billion for the third quarter of 2014 were up $35 million from the second quarter of 2014, and were $193 million higher than the third quarter of 2013. Compared to the prior year, overall average earning asset balances included growth of $195 million in average loan balances, while average investment securities and cash balances declined by $2 million. Average deposit balances declined modestly compared to the second quarter of 2014, and were $304 million higher than the third quarter of 2013, principally due to the branch acquisition.

Ending loans at September 30, 2014 increased $191.8 million, or 4.8%, year-over-year, reflecting strong organic growth in the Company’s consumer lending portfolios, as well as a 3.0% year-over-year increase in business loans, which was generally consistent with market demand characteristics. Ending loans increased $69.4 million from June 30, 2014, driven by growth in the consumer installment loans. Ending investment securities totaled $2.51 billion at September 30, 2014, a level slightly lower than the end of the third quarter of 2013, and down $28 million from the end of the second quarter of 2014. Quarter-end borrowings of $343.8 million were down $223.3 million from the year-ago quarter-end. Deposit balances at September 30, 2014 totaled $5.97 billion, up $280.0 million, or 4.9%, from the year earlier quarter.

Shareholders’ equity of $965.5 million at September 30, 2014 was $99.8 million, or 11.5% higher than the prior year quarter-end, primarily due to strong earnings generation and capital retention over the last four quarters. The Company’s net tangible equity to net tangible assets ratio was 8.57% at September 30, 2014, up from 7.38% at September 30, 2013. The Company’s Tier 1 leverage ratio grew to 9.79% for the current quarter, up 40 basis points from the third quarter of 2013.

Asset Quality

The Company’s asset quality metrics continue to be favorable relative to comparative peer and industry averages and illustrate the long-term effectiveness of the Company’s disciplined risk management and underwriting standards. Net charge-offs were $1.1 million for the third quarter, compared to $1.5 million for the third quarter of 2013 and $1.5 million for second quarter of 2014. As an annualized percentage of average loans, net charge-offs measured 0.10% in the third quarter of 2014, compared to 0.15% in the prior year third quarter and 0.14% in the second quarter of 2014. Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans at September 30, 2014 were 0.57%, consistent with 0.58% at June 30, 2014 and down from 0.61% of total loans at September 30, 2013. The total loan delinquency ratio of 1.32% at the end of the third quarter was down 16 basis points from the end of the third quarter of 2013. The third quarter provision for loan losses of $1.7 million was $0.3 million, or 16.5% lower than the third quarter of 2013, and $0.2 million, or 8.0%, lower than the second quarter of 2014 due primarily to lower net charge-off levels. The allowance for loan losses to nonperforming loans was 189% at September 30, 2014, comparable with the 187% and 181% levels at the end of the second quarter of 2014 and the end of the third quarter of 2013, respectively.

Increased Cash Dividend Declared

In July, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 per share on its common stock. The dividend was paid on October 10, 2014 to shareholders of record as of September 15, 2014. The $0.30 quarterly dividend was a $0.02 per share or 7.1% increase over the $0.28 per share paid in the prior four quarters. This marked the Company’s 22nd consecutive year of increased dividend payouts to shareholders. Using the closing price of $34.80 a share on the Company’s common stock as of Thursday, October 16th, the $0.30 quarterly dividend provides a 3.45% annualized yield.

Also, as previously announced, the Company’s Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program authorizing the repurchase of up to 2,000,000 shares of the Company’s common stock during a twelve-month period starting January 1, 2014. Such repurchases may be made at the discretion of senior management depending on market conditions and other relevant factors and will be acquired through open market or privately negotiated transactions as permitted under Rule 10b-18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and other applicable legal requirements. The Company did not repurchase any stock in the first nine months of 2014.

Company to Host Investor Day on October 29th

Community Bank System, Inc. will hold an Investor Day presentation for investors and security analysts at the New York Stock Exchange on the morning of October 29, 2014. Investors who wish to attend the Company’s presentation should contact Josephine Rurka (josie.rurka@communitybankna.com) or Julie Senulis (Senulis@csirfirm.com).

Conference Call Scheduled

Company management will conduct an investor call at 11:00 a.m. (ET) today (Monday) to discuss third quarter results. The conference call can be accessed at 888-297-0360 (1-719-325-2289 if outside United States and Canada) using the conference ID code 6053761. Investors may also listen live via the Internet at: http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=100595.

This earnings release, including supporting financial tables, is available within the press releases section of the Company’s investor relations website at: http://ir.communitybanksystem.com. An archived webcast of the earnings call will be available on this site for one full year.

Community Bank System, Inc. operates more than 190 customer facilities across Upstate New York and Northeastern Pennsylvania through its banking subsidiary, Community Bank, N.A. With assets of approximately $7.5 billion, the DeWitt, N.Y. headquartered company is among the country’s 150 largest financial institutions. In addition to a full range of retail and business banking services, the Company offers comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services and operates a full service insurance agency providing personal and business insurance products. The Company’s Benefit Plans Administrative Services, Inc. subsidiary is a leading provider of employee benefits administration and trust services, actuarial and consulting services to customers on a national scale. Community Bank System, Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Company’s stock trades under the symbol CBU. For more information about Community Bank visit www.communitybankna.com or http://ir.communitybanksystem.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The following factors, among others, could cause the actual results of CBU’s operations to differ materially from CBU’s expectations: the successful integration of operations of its acquisitions; competition; changes in economic conditions, interest rates and financial markets; and changes in legislation or regulatory requirements. These statements are based on the current beliefs and expectations of CBU’s management and CBU does not assume any duty to update forward-looking statements.

Summary of Financial Data
(Dollars in thousands, expect per share data)
Quarter Ended Year-to-Date
September 30, September 30, September 30, September 30,
Earnings 2014 2013 2014 2013
Loan income $46,883 $47,606 $138,649 $141,136
Investment income 17,404 18,526 52,986 57,061
Total interest income 64,287 66,132 191,635 198,197
Interest expense 2,893 5,531 8,963 20,739
Net interest income 61,394 60,601 182,672 177,458
Provision for loan losses 1,747 2,093 4,647 4,807
Net interest income after provision for loan losses 59,647 58,508 178,025 172,651
Deposit service fees 13,833 12,703 39,260 36,643
Mortgage banking revenues 364 599 993 1,111
Other banking services 1,503 1,072 3,672 2,618
Wealth management services 4,617 3,823 13,529 11,566
Employee benefit services 10,755 9,397 31,638 28,564
Gain on sales of investment securities 0 0 0 63,799
Loss on debt extinguishments 0 0 0 (63,500)
Total noninterest income 31,072 27,594 89,092 80,801
Salaries and employee benefits 30,941 30,448 92,090 91,217
Occupancy and equipment 6,617 6,448 21,224 20,263
Amortization of intangible assets 1,051 1,089 3,293 3,408
Litigation settlement 2,800 0 2,800 0
Acquisition expenses 0 71 123 76
Other 17,402 16,988 50,366 49,008
Total operating expenses 58,811 55,044 169,896 163,972
Income before income taxes 31,908 31,058 97,221 89,480
Income taxes 9,537 9,069 29,001 26,128
Net income $22,371 $21,989 $68,220 $63,352
Basic earnings per share $0.55 $0.55 $1.67 $1.58
Diluted earnings per share $0.54 $0.54 $1.65 $1.56

Summary of Financial Data

(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)

2014 2013
3rd Qtr 2nd Qtr 1st Qtr 4th Qtr 3rd Qtr
Earnings
Loan income $46,883 $46,073 $45,693 $47,061 $47,606
Investment income 17,404 18,036 17,546 18,901 18,526
Total interest income 64,287 64,109 63,239 65,962 66,132
Interest expense 2,893 2,939 3,131 5,326 5,531
Net interest income 61,394 61,170 60,108 60,636 60,601
Provision for loan losses 1,747 1,900 1,000 3,185 2,093
Net interest income after provision for loan losses 59,647 59,270 59,108 57,451 58,508
Deposit service fees 13,833 13,172 12,255 12,714 12,703
Mortgage banking revenues 364 345 284 562 599
Other banking services 1,503 1,263 906 954 1,072
Wealth management services 4,617 4,438 4,474 3,984 3,823
Employee benefit services 10,755 10,448 10,435 10,032 9,397
Gain on sales of investment securities 0 0 0 16,969 0
Loss on debt extinguishments 0 0 0 (23,836) 0
Total noninterest income 31,072 29,666 28,354 21,379 27,594
Salaries and employee benefits 30,941 30,409 30,740 30,412 30,448
Occupancy and equipment 6,617 6,916 7,691 6,782 6,448
Amortization of intangible assets 1,051 1,101 1,141 1,061 1,089
Litigation settlement 2,800 0 0 0 0
Acquisition expenses 0 0 123 2,105 71
Other 17,402 16,738 16,226 16,923 16,988
Total operating expenses 58,811 55,164 55,921 57,283 55,044
Income before income taxes 31,908 33,772 31,541 21,547 31,058
Income taxes 9,537 10,096 9,368 6,070 9,069
Net income 22,371 23,676 22,173 15,477 21,989
Basic earnings per share $0.55 $0.58 $0.55 $0.38 $0.55
Diluted earnings per share $0.54 $0.57 $0.54 $0.38 $0.54
Profitability
Return on assets 1.19% 1.28% 1.23% 0.84% 1.22%
Return on equity 9.25% 10.13% 9.92% 7.04% 10.26%
Return on tangible equity(3) 14.66% 16.34% 16.37% 11.78% 17.57%
Noninterest income/operating income (FTE) (1) 32.2% 31.3% 30.7% 30.5% 30.0%
Efficiency ratio (2) 57.0% 57.0% 59.2% 58.5% 58.6%
Components of Net Interest Margin (FTE)
Loan yield 4.48% 4.51% 4.55% 4.61% 4.76%
Cash equivalents yield 0.17% 0.23% 0.25% 0.22% 0.22%
Investment yield 3.37% 3.48% 3.46% 3.54% 3.52%
Earning asset yield 4.06% 4.12% 4.13% 4.20% 4.28%
Interest-bearing deposit rate 0.17% 0.17% 0.19% 0.21% 0.22%
Borrowing rate 0.87% 0.91% 0.90% 1.86% 2.02%
Cost of all interest-bearing funds 0.23% 0.23% 0.25% 0.41% 0.43%
Cost of funds (includes DDA) 0.18% 0.19% 0.20% 0.33% 0.35%
Net interest margin (FTE) 3.89% 3.94% 3.94% 3.88% 3.94%
Fully tax-equivalent adjustment $3,923 $3,972 $3,834 $3,666 $3,728
Summary of Financial Data
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
2014 2013
3rd Qtr 2nd Qtr 1st Qtr 4th Qtr 3rd Qtr
Average Balances
Loans $4,180,284 $4,121,976 $4,099,827 $4,069,204 $3,985,755
Cash equivalents 8,225 9,535 9,782 11,085 8,644
Taxable investment securities 1,834,591 1,839,488 1,833,296 1,861,206 1,833,355
Nontaxable investment securities 642,113 659,662 638,975 639,199 644,728
Total interest-earning assets 6,665,213 6,630,661 6,581,880 6,580,694 6,472,482
Total assets 7,457,409 7,407,151 7,333,082 7,278,167 7,154,796
Interest-bearing deposits 4,671,216 4,754,636 4,736,746 4,546,591 4,511,199
Borrowings 427,051 385,150 402,549 634,472 589,065
Total interest-bearing liabilities 5,098,267 5,139,786 5,139,295 5,181,063 5,100,264
Noninterest-bearing deposits 1,281,626 1,224,515 1,197,922 1,149,873 1,138,039
Shareholders’ equity 959,484 937,532 906,787 872,567 850,238
Balance Sheet Data
Cash and cash equivalents $157,500 $161,903 $153,417 $149,647 $174,205
Investment securities 2,506,242 2,534,419 2,506,221 2,218,725 2,518,574
Loans:
Business lending 1,251,178 1,247,129 1,246,070 1,260,364 1,214,796
Consumer mortgage 1,598,298 1,580,584 1,579,322 1,582,058 1,570,607
Consumer indirect 841,975 797,297 755,849 740,002 713,310
Home equity 339,121 339,345 340,760 346,520 348,246
Consumer direct 186,672 183,448 174,357 180,139 178,496
Total loans 4,217,244 4,147,803 4,096,358 4,109,083 4,025,455
Allowance for loan losses 45,273 44,615 44,197 44,319 44,083
Intangible assets, net 387,966 389,018 390,119 390,499 383,735
Other assets 278,964 272,815 295,310 272,229 244,131
Total assets 7,502,643 7,461,343 7,397,228 7,095,864 7,302,017
Deposits:
Noninterest-bearing 1,279,052 1,257,223 1,225,977 1,203,346 1,158,013
Non-maturity interest-bearing 3,881,249 3,872,262 3,928,230 3,766,145 3,630,684
Time 807,030 841,810 884,681 926,553 898,636
Total deposits 5,967,331 5,971,295 6,038,888 5,896,044 5,687,333
Borrowings 343,805 319,408 217,110 141,913 567,116
Subordinated debt held by unconsolidated subsidiary trusts 102,115 102,109 102,103 102,097 102,091
Accrued interest and other liabilities 123,868 113,516 120,991 79,998 79,798
Total liabilities 6,537,119 6,506,328 6,479,092 6,220,052 6,436,338
Shareholders’ equity 965,524 955,015 918,136 875,812 865,679
Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity 7,502,643 7,461,343 7,397,228 7,095,864 7,302,017
Capital
Tier 1 leverage ratio 9.79% 9.64% 9.48% 9.29% 9.39%
Tangible equity/net tangible assets (3) 8.57% 8.44% 7.97% 7.68% 7.38%
Diluted weighted average common shares O/S 41,260 41,269 41,152 41,061 40,850
Period end common shares outstanding 40,707 40,688 40,658 40,431 40,296
Cash dividends declared per common share $0.30 $0.28 $0.28 $0.28 $0.28
Book value $23.72 $23.47 $22.58 $21.66 $21.48
Tangible book value(3) $15.04 $14.74 $13.79 $12.80 $12.73
Common stock price (end of period) $33.59 $36.20 $39.02 $39.68 $34.12
Summary of Financial Data
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
2014 2013
3rd Qtr 2nd Qtr 1st Qtr 4th Qtr 3rd Qtr
Asset Quality
Nonaccrual loans $21,323 $21,991 $21,669 $19,473 $21,713
Accruing loans 90+ days delinquent 2,691 1,930 1,977 2,555 2,650
Total nonperforming loans 24,014 23,921 23,646 22,028 24,363
Other real estate owned (OREO) 3,619 4,281 4,914 5,060 5,218
Total nonperforming assets 27,633 28,202 28,560 27,088 29,581
Net charge-offs 1,090 1,482 1,122 2,949 1,483
Allowance for loan losses/loans outstanding 1.07% 1.08% 1.08% 1.08% 1.10%
Nonperforming loans/loans outstanding 0.57% 0.58% 0.58% 0.54% 0.61%
Allowance for loan losses/nonperforming loans 189% 187% 187% 201% 181%
Net charge-offs/average loans 0.10% 0.14% 0.11% 0.29% 0.15%
Delinquent loans/ending loans 1.32% 1.24% 1.25% 1.49% 1.48%
Loan loss provision/net charge-offs 160% 128% 89% 108% 147%
Nonperforming assets/total assets 0.37% 0.38% 0.39% 0.38% 0.41%
Asset Quality (excluding loans acquired since 1/1/09)
Nonaccrual loans $17,313 $18,147 $17,755 $16,065 $17,365
Accruing loans 90+ days delinquent 2,545 1,813 1,826 2,418 2,471
Total nonperforming loans 19,858 19,960 19,581 18,483 19,836
Other real estate owned (OREO) 1,794 2,303 2,645 2,832 2,767
Total nonperforming assets 21,652 22,263 22,226 21,315 22,603
Net charge-offs 1,088 1,204 1,086 1,956 1,583
Allowance for loan losses/loans outstanding 1.14% 1.15% 1.15% 1.15% 1.16%
Nonperforming loans/loans outstanding 0.51% 0.52% 0.52% 0.49% 0.54%
Allowance for loan losses/nonperforming loans 226% 221% 222% 234% 215%
Net charge-offs/average loans 0.11% 0.13% 0.12% 0.21% 0.17%
Delinquent loans/ending loans 1.23% 1.19% 1.17% 1.44% 1.45%
Loan loss provision/net charge-offs 160% 155% 121% 130% 126%
Nonperforming assets/total assets 0.30% 0.31% 0.31% 0.32% 0.33%

(1)

Excludes gains and losses on sales of investment securities and debt prepayments.

(2)

Excludes intangible amortization, acquisition expenses, litigation settlement charge, gains and losses on sales of investment securities and losses on debt extinguishments.

(3)

Includes deferred tax liabilities (of approximately $34.9 million at 9/30/14) generated from tax deductible goodwill.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The following factors, among others, could cause the actual results of CBU’s operations to differ materially from CBU’s expectations: the successful integration of operations of its acquisitions; competition; changes in economic conditions, interest rates and financial markets; and changes in legislation or regulatory requirements. CBU does not assume any duty to update forward-looking statements.

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