Losses continue at Alaska Pacific Bank

Head of Juneau-based bank says 'fundemental business' still strong

Posted: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Alaska Pacific Bank lost enough money in the third quarter of 2009 to more than offset small profits in earlier quarters.

Officials with the Juneau-based bank, a subsidiary of the publicly traded Alaska Pacific Bancshares, Inc., attributed the losses to a handful of bad loans and said the fundamental business of the bank remained strong.

"We still have very low delinquencies in our core business market area of Southeast Alaska and continue to be confident in the overall core business of the bank," said bank President Craig Dahl, in a statement to investors announcing the loss.

In the third quarter, Alaska Pacific lost $540,000 for a $115,000 loss so far this year, according to the bank's most recent quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both figures are less than last year, however. In the third quarter of 2008, the bank lost $672,000 and $1.3 million through that point in the year.

Losses this quarter amounted to $0.83 per share, compared to $1.03 per share last year.

Shares of Alaska Pacific Bancshares, the bank's parent company, closed Monday at $5.65, up from its lows of $2.75 last December, but well off its two-year high of $26.

Earlier this year, the federal government's Capital Purchase Program, part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, made a $4.8 million investment in Alaska Pacific. The government now owns 20 percent of the company.

Bank officials say the losses over the last year mostly stem from the loans the bank made in the Lower 48 in conjunction with other small banks to large projects that none of them could have handled individually. Some of those loans went bad.

The biggest of those problem loans include a $2.1 million commercial real estate investment in Idaho and other loans of $1 million or more in Oregon and Colorado. Several smaller commercial real estate loans in Alaska are also in trouble.

"We're still dealing with the same very limited number of problem loans, and we're going to carefully work through them," Dahl said.

Alaska Pacific also had two loans to retail businesses in Juneau which have since closed, the bank reported. The businesses were not identified.

Among other contributing factors in the losses was a steep increase in Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation fees, which jumped to $159,000 in the quarter, compared to only $7,000 in the same quarter last year at Alaska Pacific Bank.

That's the fee the FDIC charges to fund insurance on bank deposits, but it has been hit hard by the cost of multiple bank failures elsewhere in the country.

Deposits at Alaska Pacific and other FDIC insured banks are guaranteed by the federal government up to $250,000 until Dec. 31, 2013, after which the cap reverts to $100,000.

Loans totaled $161.8 million in the quarter, down from $169.0 million at the end of 2008.

Among the areas of decline were commercial business loans, as a result of loan payoffs and lower demand for new loans.

One area in which the bank has seen revenues increase was in fees on savings and checking accounts, as well as for preparation of mortgage documents.

Dahl said the bank was encouraged by its plan to work its way out of the losses, the continuing strength of the Southeast economy, including new factors such as Kensington Mine coming online. That should boost the economy directly and the psychology of the region, Dahl said.

"We're feeling very good about the bank and the region," he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or e-mail patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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