Virginia's largest commercial banking companies have reported uniformly that their business boomed last year, with swelling loan demand lifting profits to record levels.
The range of earnings growth in 1978 for the five largest companies reporting this week was 14 percent to 49 percent -- with the larger increases posted by institutions with larger assets, indicating that profit growth was related primarily to higher loan volume rather than increased interest rate return.
United Virginia Bankshares, of Richmond, reported earnings from operations during the year of $25.6 million ($4.74 a share) compared with $17.1 million ($3.18) in 1977, for a gain of 49 percent. Not included in these figures are gains or losses from sales of securities held by UVB, the largest banking company in the state.
Chairman Joseph A. Jennings said loan growth, better controls on expenses and a reduction of non-earning assets contributed to the profitability gains in 1978, as total assets increased 7 percent to $3.14 billion.
Virginia National Bankshares, of Norfolk, reported 1978 profits of $18.8 million ($2.78 a share), up 32 percent from $14.3 million ($2.11) the previous year. VNB's principal subsidiary is the state's largest single bank -- Virginia National -- and company assets on Dec. 31 were $2.4 billion compared with $2.2 billion a year earlier.
Chairman W. Wright Harrison noted that loan volume for the year averaged $1.39 billion, up about 12 percent from 1977. By year's end, the loan volume was $1.45 billion.
First & Merchants Corp., another Richmond bank holding company with statewide operations, reported an increase of 22 percent in 1978 operating profits to $11.8 million ($3.57 a share) compared with $9.6 million ($2.92) the previous year.
Assets of F&M topped $2 billion for the first time last year and loan volume jumped 10 percent to $1.2 billion. Chairman C. Coleman McGehee said consumer loans rose 17 percent and mortgage lending increased 16 per cent to pace the lending expansion. Non-earning assets were reduced 31 percent in 1978 to $43.8 million.
Dominion Bankshares Corp., a Roanoke bank holding company, listed 1978 profits of $16.6 million ($2.63 a share compared with $13.7 million ($2.17) the previous year, a gain of 21 percent.
President Byron Hicks said net interest income rose 20 1/2 percent in 1978 while loan volume jumped 13 1/2 percent to $1.2 billion. The statewide firm had assets of $1.8 billion on Dec. 31, up nearly 10 percent for the year. Hicks said he expects Virginia's economy to continue moderate expansion this year.
Bank of Virginia Co., of Richmond, reported 1978 profits of $13.6 million ($2.88 a share), up 14 percent from $11.9 million ($2.58) the previous year. Total assets rose 9 percent to $2.1 billion and loan volume increased 16 percent -- mostly credit card and commercial loans. Among other bank firms in the Washington region reporting 1978 earnings:
National Bank of Washington profits rose 19 percent to $5.98 million ($5.43 a share) compared with $5 million ($4.55); deposits increased about 10 percent to $691 million, loans rose 7 percent to $464 million and assets increased 11 percent to $865 million.
Mercantile Bankshares Corp., a Baltimore-based bank holding company, listed profits rose 11 percent to $10.7 million ($2.39 a share) compared with $9.74 billion for the first time, up 15 billion for the first time, up 15 per percent in the year, as loan volume soared 22 percent to $563 million.