January 29, 2008 in Business

Sterling gives final numbers

The Spokesman-Review

Sterling Financial Corp. Monday reported that a $13 million provision for loan losses dragged results for the year and fourth-quarter 2007 below the levels for 2006 on a per-share basis.

Net income increased 26 percent for the year, to a record $93.3 million, to $1.86 per share, compared with 2006. Core earnings, which exclude costs associated with merger activity, and other non-recurring costs, increased to $96.5 million, or $1.92 per share, compared with $74.4 million, or 2.02 per share, in 2006.

Shares outstanding at the end of 2007 increased to 51.4 million from 42 million at the end of 2006 as a result of two acquisitions.

For the fourth quarter, earnings were $16.9 million, or 33 cents per share, compared with $26.5 million, or 51 cents per share, for the same period in 2006. Core earnings were 36 cents per share compared with 57 cents in 2006.

Assets at the end of 2007 were $12.1 billion, up from $9.8 billion at the end of 2006.

Chairman Harold Gilkey said the $13 million loss provision reflects an excess of inventory among some residential housing contractors, not participation by Sterling in the subprime lending market, or investment in any of the exotic debt instruments that have burned money-center banks.

• Verizon Communications Inc., the nation’s second largest telecommunications company, on Monday reported a 3.9 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings on steady but moderate growth in its core operations.

The company reported seeing no real effect of a possible economic slowdown, beyond a marginal rise in nonpaying wireless subscribers.

Verizon earned $1.07 billion, or 37 cents per share, in the October-December period, compared to $1.03 billion, or 35 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue for the most recent quarter came to $23.8 billion, up 5.5 percent from $22.6 billion a year ago.

Corning Inc. said Monday its fourth-quarter profit rose 11 percent, beating Wall Street expectations, with strong demand for glass used in flat-screen televisions and computers.

The largest maker of liquid crystal display glass said the slowing U.S. economy has not affected its biggest business and projected higher first-quarter results than analysts predicted.

Earnings climbed to $717 million, or 45 cents a share, in the October-December period from $646 million, or 41 cents a share, in last year’s fourth quarter.

• Oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. said Monday its fourth-quarter profit rose almost 5 percent from a year ago, helped by growing business in the Eastern Hemisphere, where the company is placing greater resources.

Net income in the October-December period rose to $690 million, or 75 cents per share, compared with $658 million, or 64 cents a share, during the same period a year ago.

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