Mortgage activity boosts bank’s profit

WINONA, MINN. — Strong mortgage lending in the first nine months of this year helped Merchants Bank post a profit and offer a dividend to stockholders, even as the financial institution took precautions against potential future economic problems tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Merchants Financial Group, the parent company of the bank, announced recently that its $14.7 million in earnings through the third quarter was $821,640 ahead of its plan for this year and $250,000 higher than its third-quarter performance in 2019.

“Despite economic challenges, Merchants’ reputation as a trusted advisor for families, businesses and community partners has resulted in steady earnings for the third quarter,” president and CEO Gregory Evans said in a news release.

As a result of its profitable quarter, the company’s board of directors authorized a 75-cent-per-share dividend to shareholders, which will be paid in December.

The bank cited mortgage lending as the main driver of positive earnings, contributing $6.97 million more net income than had been expected through the first nine months of this year.

MFGI did reverse $3.2 million out of income to create additional allowance for loan/lease loss reserves as a precautionary measure for “possible future economic uncertainties,” according to the news release.

Winona, Minn.-based Merchants Bank has 23 locations between Minnesota and Wisconsin, including a branch in Eau Claire at 2728 Mall Drive.

From staff reports