Provident Financial

Provident Financial Services ( PFS) reported earnings per share of $0.22 for the quarter ended June 30, 2007, compared to $0.22, for the quarter ended June 30, 2006. Earnings per share were $0.41 for the six months ended June 30, 2007, compared to basic and diluted earnings per share of $0.44 and $0.43, respectively, for the six months ended June 30, 2006.

Net income for the three months ended June 30, 2007 totaled $13.6 million, an increase of $99,000, or 0.7%, compared to $13.5 million reported for the same period in 2006. Net income was $24.4 million for the six months ended June 30, 2007, a decrease of $2.9 million, or 10.6%, compared to $27.3 million for the same period in 2006.

Paul M. Pantozzi, Chairman and CEO, noted:

“In the past quarter we successfully integrated First Morris’ operations, increased our loan pipeline and maintained our net interest margin in line with the trailing quarter. These results fit well with our strategic priorities of profitable franchise expansion, commercial loan growth and prudent balance sheet management.” Pantozzi added, “In furtherance of our commitment to provide long-term stockholder value, I am pleased to report the Board’s declaration of a 10% increase in our quarterly cash dividend and authorization of our sixth stock repurchase program.”

Increase in Quarterly Dividend

The Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.11 per common share, an increase of 10.0% from the prior quarter’s cash dividend of $0.10 per share. The dividend is payable on August 31, 2007 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 15, 2007. Since declaring its first cash dividend in the second quarter of 2003, the Company has increased the quarterly cash dividend seven times for a total of 175%.

Stock Repurchase Program

The Company’s Board of Directors authorized the Company’s sixth stock repurchase program. Under the new authorization, the Company may repurchase 5% of the amount of shares of common stock currently outstanding, approximately 3.2 million shares. Repurchases will be made from time to time through open market purchases, unsolicited negotiated transactions, or in another manner deemed appropriate by management. The repurchase program will not be limited by a time period.

Provident has committed to creating shareholder value and has deployed its cash for the purpose of acquisitions of competitors and buying back stock.

In addition, Provident has shown the ability to increase its dividend over the short term.  I normally like to see a longer term dividend record for stocks selected here at Dividend Money, but Provident has earned a spot on the watch list for the time being.

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