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Benchmark reports first quarter results

Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. (BMBN), the Kenbridge-based holding company for Benchmark Community Bank, announced unaudited results for the first quarter of 2021. Net income of $2,775,123 was up from the $2,110,986 earned during the first quarter of 2020, while earnings per share increased from $0.47 to $0.61 for the period.

“Lending activity through the first quarter has been strong,” observed Jay A. Stafford, President and CEO. “In addition to a robust residential mortgage and commercial real estate market, the second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans have kept our loan officers busy.”

Stafford added, “It is hard to believe that we are over a year into the pandemic. We operated most of last year with our lobbies closed, assisting customers via personal appointments, internet banking, BCB Mobile app and using our ATMs and telephone banking. I am pleased to report that we are now again operating with our lobbies open, allowing us to return to meeting our customers in person while following guidelines designed to keep everyone healthy.”

The federal government’s CARES Act, adopted on March 27, 2020, continues to provide an additional opportunity for the bank to serve business customers adversely impacted by the COVID-19 event. It has also fueled the bank’s deposit growth through a combination of PPP loan proceeds and stimulus payments to both individuals and municipalities.

“We began working on PPP loans in March of last year,” Stafford explained. “We continue working with customers, helping them navigate through the SBA loan forgiveness process while at the same time helping customers qualify for additional funding.

“This has certainly been an extraordinary and difficult time in our nation’s history. We continue to deal with COVID-19, but things have slowly begun to return to normal across the country. We are proud to serve our local communities and continue to meet the banking needs of our customers at our branches and through our electronic delivery channels.”

Notable Items:

• A total of $70,411 was provisioned to the loan loss reserve during the quarter compared to a provision of $224,589 made during the first quarter of 2020.

• Interest expense on borrowings, used to support the stock repurchase program, amounted to $50,832 for the period, down from $78,062 recognized last year during the same period.

• Total loans are up $12.47 million for the quarter, with total loans up by $38.81 million over the last twelve months.

• Deposit growth during the first quarter amounted to $79.74 million, with total deposits up $228.26 million over the past twelve months. This growth has been driven by the PPP loan program and government backed stimulus payments to both individuals and municipalities.

• The bank’s overnight cash position was $205.33 million as of March 31, 2021, up from $28.61 million one year ago.

Key Financial Ratios:

• Return on average equity (ROAE) increased from 12.08% to 14.33% and Return on average assets (ROAA) increased from 1.19% to 1.21% for the quarter.

• Yield on loans decreased from 5.46% to 5.30%.

• The bank’s cost of funds decreased from 0.63% to 0.33%.

• Net interest margin was down from 4.49% to 3.63% due to a large amount of cash holdings.

As of March 31, the current book value of the company was $17.42 per share compared to $15.72 one year ago. The closing share price at quarter-end was $18.75 per share, which represents a price to book trading ratio of 107.61%. The company currently has 4,532,320 shares outstanding.