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BOK Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:BOKF) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

BOK Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:BOKF) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript October 25, 2023

BOK Financial Corporation misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $2.04 EPS, expectations were $2.12.

Operator: Greetings, and welcome to BOK Financial Corporation Third Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions]. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Marty Grunst, Chief Financial Officer for BOK Financial Corporation. Thank you, Mr. Grunst. You may begin.

Martin Grunst: Good morning, and thank you for joining us. Today, our CEO, Stacy Kymes, will provide opening comments; Marc Maun, Executive Vice President for Regional Banking, will cover our loan portfolio and related credit metrics; and Scott Grauer, Executive Vice President of Wealth Management, will cover our fee-based results. I will then discuss financial performance for the quarter and our forward guidance. PDFs of the slide presentation and third quarter press release are available on our website at We refer you to the disclaimers on Slide 2 regarding any forward-looking statements we make during the call. I will now turn the call over to Stacy Kymes.

A finance professional at their computer logging into the company's branded digital banking platform. Editorial photo for a financial news article. 8k. --ar 16:9

Stacy Kymes: Good morning, and thanks for joining us to discuss BOK Financials’ third quarter financial results. Starting on Slide 4, third quarter net income was $134 million, or $2.04 per diluted share. Our team had another solid quarter of earnings, driven by our diverse business model, which prudently balances interest revenue with non-interest revenues and allows us to perform well in a variety of business climates. Fee and commission revenues were 40% of total revenue for the quarter. This quarter, our Public and Corporate Finance group established new record for investment banking fees, which materially offset last quarter's record high derivative fees. Additionally, we continue to focus on opportunities for growth, given the economic vitality of our core geographic footprint as we take advantage of our capital and liquidity strength.

Total loans have increased almost 9% from last year and a core commercial and industrial loans were up 8%. We are poised to introduce our full service banking model into the San Antonio market with the addition of a fixed income sales and trading office in Memphis. We are confident both will drive long-term shareholder value. Turning to Slide 5. Period-end loan balances increased $486 million or 2.1% linked quarter with growth in both C&I and commercial real estate. Both period end and average deposits continued to grow during the quarter. Our loan-to-deposit ratio increased just slightly to 70.5% at the end of the quarter as loan growth outpaced deposit growth. Our cost for deposits did increase linked quarter, however, the pace did slow. As Marty will detail later, our reported net interest margin continues to be diluted by the expanding trading activity this quarter with our core margin, excluding the trading activities at 3.14%.

Although, it will take a few quarters to be unclear, we are seeing early signs of loan spreads increasing in our footprint as credit tightens and deposit costs remain high. The pressure on our net interest margin from increased funding costs resulted in a $21 million linked quarter decline in net interest revenue, resulting in an efficiency ratio above 60%, which is more typical for us given the mix of non-interest revenue. Credit quality is still strong and we have a combined reserve of $325 million or 1.37% of outstanding loans at quarter end, which is notably above the median of our peer group. Finally, we repurchased 700,500 shares this quarter to reflect our long-term confidence in the company and attractive repurchase valuations. I'll provide additional perspective on the results before starting the Q&A session, but now Marc Maun will review the loan portfolio and our credit metrics in more detail.

I'll turn the call over to him.

Marc Maun: Thanks, Stacy. Turning to Slide 7. Period-end loans were $23.7 billion, up 2.1% linked quarter. Total C&I loans increased $185 million or 1.3% linked quarter with year-over-year growth of $1.1 billion or 8%. Commercial real estate loans increased $270 million or 5.4% linked quarter and have increased $767 million or 17% year-over-year. Compared to December 31, 2020, CRE balances have grown at a modest 3.8% annualized growth with commitments up 5.8% during that same period. Growth this quarter was primarily driven by multifamily properties with an increase of $232 million or 15.4% linked quarter. Industrial facility loans grew $83 million or 6.1% linked quarter, which was offset by a $24 million or 2.4% linked quarter decline in loans secured by office facilities.

The $982 million in outstanding office loans is at its lowest point since June 2020 and is only 4% of total outstanding loan balance. The year-over-year CRE growth of $767 million was predominantly driven by multifamily and industrial loans. We have an internal limit of 185% of Tier 1 capital and reserves to total CRE commitment and we're presently at the upper end of that limit. We do expect continued modest growth in outstanding CRE balances, as construction loans fund up. As of September 30, CRE balances represented 22% of total outstanding loan balances, a ratio well below our peers. Combined services and general business loans, our core C&I loans increased $112 million or 1.6% linked quarter with year-over-year growth of $716 million or 11%.

These combined categories are 30% of our total loan portfolio. Health care balances increased $92 million or 2.3% linked quarter and have grown $257 million or 6.7% year-over-year, primarily driven by our Senior Housing sector. Healthcare sector loans represented 17% of total loans at quarter end. Energy balances decreased $18 million linked quarter and have increased $119 million or 3.5% year-over-year with period-end balances at 15% of total period-end loans. Year-over-year, loans have grown $1.9 billion or 8.9%. Excluding BBB loans, Q3 2023 extends the linked quarter loan growth to eight consecutive quarters. Our current pipeline is strong and we're confident we have momentum to drive additional growth in our loan portfolio well into next year.

Turning to Slide 8. You can see that credit quality continues to be exceptionally good across the loan portfolio, and well below historical norms and pre-pandemic levels. Non-performing assets, excluding those guaranteed by U.S. government agencies decreased $12 million this quarter. Non-accruing loans decreased $13 million linked quarter, primarily driven by a decrease in commercial real estate loans. The provision for credit losses of $7 million in the third quarter reflects strong asset quality, continued loan growth and modest changes in our economic forecast. We remain in a solid credit position today. With a ratio of capital allocated to commercial real estate that is substantially less than our peers and the history of outperformance during past credit cycle, we believe we are well positioned to an economic slowdown materialize in the quarters ahead.

The markets continue to be focused on the Office segment of real estate, given the trends in workforce preferences. Although, the verdict is still out as to whether that will be sustained as the pendulum seems to be shifting back to more time in the physical office. Our Office segment maturities are generally ratable over the next three to four years, and we have a mini-perm option if the markets are not conducive to long-term permanent finance. The average loan-to-value ratio in the Office space is below 65% and average cash flow coverage exceeds 1.3 times based on our most recent review at the end of 2022. Net charge-offs were $6.5 million or 11 basis points annualized for the third quarter and have averaged 13 basis points over the last 12 months, far below our historic loss range of 30 basis points to 40 basis points.

Looking forward, we expect net charge-offs to remain low. The combined allowance for credit losses was $325 million or 1.37% of outstanding loans at quarter end. The total combined allowance is available for loss and any apples-to-apples industry comparison should include the combined reserves. We expect this ratio to remain stable as loan growth continues and economic conditions persist. I'll turn the call over to Scott.

Scott Grauer: Thanks, Marc. Turning to Slide 10. Total fees and commissions were $198 million for the third quarter, down slightly linked quarter. Our Wealth segment continues to set new quarterly highs for fees and commissions at $123.6 million this quarter, eclipsing the previous high set last quarter. Fees and commissions for the second quarter included record results for energy customer hedging as well as annual tax service fees. Although energy hedging customer and tax service fees were down linked quarter, these were partially offset by record results this quarter in our Public and Corporate Finance groups, driving a $5.3 million increase in other investment banking fees. The $2.5 million linked quarter decline in trading fees was primarily related to fees from our municipal bond trading portfolio, down $3.5 million linked quarter, which was influenced by rising interest rate environment and evolving market expectations during the third quarter.

This was partially offset by a $1.1 million increase in our MBS trading activities. Fiduciary and asset management fees were $52 million for the third quarter, a 1.4% linked quarter decrease due to the second quarter's annual tax service fees. Our assets under management or administration were $99 billion at quarter end. Our asset mix for assets under management or administration moved slightly this quarter with 43% fixed income, 32% equities, 16% cash and 9% alternatives. We are proud of our diversified mix of fee income, which we believe is a strategic differentiator for us when compared to our peers, especially during the times of economic uncertainty. We consistently ranked in the top decile for fee income as a percentage of total net interest revenue and non-interest fee income.

Our revenue mix averaged 37% during the last 12 months that consistently supports a revenue stream that is sustainable through a wide variety of economic cycles. I'll now turn over the call to Marty Grunst.

Martin Grunst: Thank you, Scott. Turning to Slide 12. Third quarter net interest revenue was $301 million, a $21 million decrease linked quarter. Net interest margin was 2.69%, a 31 basis point decrease versus Q2. I will note that 8 basis points of the 31 basis point margin decline was due to growth in the trading securities. As the trading securities grow is dilutive to the net interest margin as it grows earning assets at a narrower spread compared to the rest of the balance sheet. Net of the 8 basis point impact from trading, the remaining 23 basis point decline was driven by the competitive deposit environment as average interest-bearing deposit costs increased by 61 basis points linked quarter. Our cumulative interest-bearing deposit beta increased to 58% for the third quarter and non-interest DDA continued to shift into interest bearing.

DDA as a percent of total deposits was 29.6% as of September 30. This slide shows net interest margin and net interest revenue with and without the impact of the trading business to better highlight trends and comparability. For the third quarter of 2023, the net interest margin, excluding the impact of trading assets, was 3.14% versus 3.36% in the second quarter. Growth in earning assets during the quarter was driven by trading securities and loans, partially offset by a decline in our fair value option securities used to hedge our mortgage servicing asset. Turning to Slide 13. Liquidity and capital continue to be very strong on an absolute basis and versus peers. Total deposits grew $358 million on a period-end basis and the loan-to-deposit ratio was 70.5%, up slightly from the previous quarter.

Average total deposits increased $918 million linked quarter with average interest-bearing deposits up $1.8 billion, partially offset by an $840 million decline in demand deposits. Brokered CDs have recently been a topic for our industry, and we know that our usage of that funding source over time is generally low, but not zero. Brokered CDs were $688 million or less than 2% of total funding at quarter end and declined $72 million versus the prior quarter end. Our tangible common equity ratio was 7.74%, down 5 basis points linked quarter due to balance sheet growth and increase in interest rates put up 11 basis points from year end 2022. Adjusted TCE, including the impact of unrealized losses on held to maturity securities is 7.35%, consistent with year-end [indiscernible].

CET1 is 12.1% and if adjusted for AOCI, would be 9.7%. As the recent regulatory capital proposal is largely focused on banks over $100 million, we have ample capital to support continued organic growth while at the same time allowing for continued share buyback. During the third quarter, we repurchased 700,500 shares at an average price of $84.17 per share. Turning to Slide 14. Linked quarter total expenses increased by $5.6 million or 1.8%. Personnel expense was flat linked quarter as increases related to our San Antonio and Memphis expansions were mostly offset by a decrease in employee benefits. Non-personnel operating expense grew $5.5 million, occupancy and equipment increased $2.5 million, driven by the retirement of certain ATMs as we upgrade our network.

FDIC insurance expense increased $1 million. Combined, all other expense categories increased $3.3 million, much of that related to an accrual for certain disputed matters. Year-over-year total operating expense increased $3 million or 10%. Personnel expense increased $20 million or 12%. However, $3 million of the year-over-year increase was related to a onetime benefit during the second quarter of '22 from the dissolution of our pension plan, combined with linked quarter market adjustments for deferred compensation. Third quarter 2023 also includes $2.6 million of expansion related personnel costs. Cash based compensation related to new business production increased $6.8 million. The remaining $8 million year-over-year increase was primarily regular salaries and benefits with that directly related to annual merit increases and a much lower level of open position.

Year-over-year, other operating expense increased $9 million or 7.3%. Occupancy and equipment increased $3.3 million with $2.5 million related to the ATM retirements, FDIC insurance increased $3.7 million as both the assessment base and the rate increase, and data processing increased $3.9 million, primarily due to continued investments in technology. These were partially offset by a $1.1 million decrease in mortgage banking costs as MSR amortization flow. Turning to Slide 15. I will note that we are in the middle of our 2024 financial planning process, so we are not ready to provide forward-looking assumptions with the same level of detail as we have for the last few quarters. However, I will provide the following higher level expectations for the next 15 months.

We continue to expect upper single-digit annualized loan growth. Economic conditions in our geographic footprint remain favorable and continue to be supported by business and migration from other markets. The competitive environment for loans should be a tailwind for us. We expect to continue holding our available-for-sale securities portfolio flat and to maintain a neutral interest rate risk position. We expect total deposits to be stable or grow modestly and the loan-to-deposit ratio to remain in the low 70s. Currently, we are assuming no additional rate changes by the Federal Reserve in 2023 or 2024. We believe the margin will migrate modestly lower over the next couple of quarters as interest-bearing deposit betas level out and demand deposit balance attrition runs its course.

In aggregate, we expect total fees and commissions revenue to grow at a mid-single digit growth rate on a year-over-year basis and our strategic expansion initiatives to positively impact growth rates for 2024. We expect expenses to increase modestly as we continue to invest in strategic growth and technology initiatives with revenue growth following at a slight lag. We expect the efficiency ratio to increase with net interest margin changes, then migrate downward as revenue growth is realized. This does not include the impact of the FDIC special assessment, which could be finalized in the fourth quarter of 2023. Our combined allowance level is above the median of our peers, and we expect to maintain a strong credit reserve. Given our expectations for loan growth and the strength of our credit quality, we expect quarterly provision expense near recent levels to continue, and an eventual move towards normal credit costs later in 2024.

Changes in the economic outlook will affect our provision expense. Additionally, we expect to continue our opportunistic share repurchase activity. I'll now turn the call back over to Stacy Kymes for closing commentary.

Stacy Kymes: Thanks, Marty. This quarter highlights the benefits of our diverse revenue mix and our strong risk management culture as we and the industry experienced pressure on the margin from increased funding costs. While margin pressure is a reality for us and our peers, our diverse fee-based businesses supply a strong core revenue base that sets us apart. Excluding the volatile mortgage refinance fee during the second and third quarters of 2020, the last five consecutive quarters are the highest for fee income in the company's history. We continue to grow and invest in our fee businesses, as shown by our recent expansion into Memphis and our talented teams collaborate well to ensure we grow our company the right way, a way that is sustainable through all economic cycles.

While the market continues to focus on capital, liquidity and credit, I see this as a unique opportunity to use our strength in these areas to grow organically and invest in new markets while other financial institutions may be more internally focused. We are focused on using the strength of our geographic footprint to grow both in today's climate and in the years ahead. With that, we are pleased to take your questions. Operator?

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