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Benchmark Bankshares Inc. announces earnings

Benchmark Bankshares Inc. (BMBN), the Kenbridge-based holding company for Benchmark Community Bank, announced unaudited results for 2019.

Net income for the year amounted to $9,452,659, a 3.46% increase over net income of $9,136,406 earned in 2018.

Earnings per share for the year amounted to $1.98 per share, up from $1.79 per share last year, while return on equity increased from 13.01% to 13.35% and return on average assets declined from 1.49% to 1.36%. Total assets ended the year at $711.9 million, an increase of $68 million, or 10.6%, for the year. This compares to $48.7 million, or 8.2%, in asset growth during 2018.

The bank earned $2,556,660, or $0.56 per share, during the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to $2,630,830, or $0.51 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2018. A loan loss provision of $209,662 was made during the fourth quarter, compared to a provision of $226,760 during the fourth quarter last year. Write downs and other expenses related to foreclosed property amounted to $253,539 this year compared to $19,943 for the same period last year.

Total loans at year-end amounted to $573.8 million, a $40.1 million increase over the past 12 months. This growth has been driven by increased loan demand throughout the bank’s market area. The bank’s mortgage and home construction lending business also had another outstanding year as low interest rates continued to drive both refinancing and new home purchases.

Total deposits of $632.9 million at year-end were up $64.1 million from last year. Based on June 2019 deposit numbers from the FDIC, the bank continues to be the largest depository institution in the seven Virginia counties in which it operates, maintaining a market share of approximately 24% of total deposits.

“We are pleased to report that the bank had another successful year in 2019,” President/CEO Jay Stafford said. “Earnings remain strong as indicated by the increased earnings per share and dividend payout, while we have been able to increase the deposits needed to fund steady loan growth in the newer North Carolina markets to bolster future earnings.”

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head-quartered in Kenbridge. It is the company’s sole subsidiary, which operates 16 banking offices throughout central Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina.