Q2 2013 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 07/19/2013

Operator: Welcome and thank you for standing by. All participants are in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session of today's call. This call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this point.

Now, I would like to turn the call over to your host Ram Shankar, Director of Investor Relations. Thank you. Sir, you may begin.

Ram Shankar - SVP, IR: Thank you, Nika and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us this morning. With me today are Gary Crosby, Interim President and CEO; and Greg Norwood, our Chief Financial Officer.

Before we begin, this presentation contains forward-looking information for First Niagara Financial Group. Such information constitutes forward-looking statements, which involve significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results discussed on this forward-looking statement.

A copy of the earnings release and an earnings review deck are available under the Investor Relations section at

With that, let me turn the call over to Gary.

Gary M. Crosby - Interim President and CEO: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us. When we held our first quarter investor call in April, I began my remarks by saying that as Interim CEO my focus is on leveraging our footprint and franchise and translating in our strong business fundamentals and the strong financial performance and ultimately value to our shareholders. 90 days later, I am pleased to say that we continued to deliver on that promise in the second quarter. While the search progresses for a permanent CEO, and I'll come back to that, our team remains focused and is not missing a beat when it comes to delivering value to our customers, shareholders and communities.

For the second quarter, we delivered earnings per share results that were in line with our expectations. Our businesses continued to drive profitable organic growth across our entire footprint while adhering to our longstanding credit underwriting discipline.

We delivered strong growth in commercial loans as well as total loans. Key to our ability to deliver this industry-leading loan performance is attracting new customers, maintaining our discipline on credit and leveraging our cross-solve approach to sell more to our growing customer base across our entire footprint.

Importantly, we have hired several experienced commercial lending leaders in the first half of 2013. These industry veterans will help further drive our loan growth and fee income initiatives, and our value proposition across our geographies and products. In fact, we've seen immediate benefits to our pipelines with the hiring of these additional commercial lending leaders. Combining our footprint, talent and products, we achieved our 14th consecutive quarter of double-digit commercial loan growth.

We also continue to selectively invest in new products, services and infrastructure to enhance our ability to serve our customers, drive earning, and increase shareholder value over the longer term. At the same time, we're tightly managing our operating expenses, and I'm pleased with our progress to date. We remain focused on delivering our full year expense goals while generating positive operating leverage and net earnings.

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