Meta Financial Group, Inc.® Announces Results for 2021 Fiscal First Quarter

Jan 27 2021

- Earnings Per Share Increased 50% Year-over-Year to $0.84

- Efficiency Ratio Improved 9% from Prior Year

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Jan. 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Meta Financial Group, Inc.® (Nasdaq: CASH) (“Meta” or the “Company”) reported net income of $28.0 million, or $0.84 per share, for the three months ended December 31, 2020, compared to net income of $21.1 million, or $0.56 per share, for the three months ended December 31, 2019.

“Solid revenues, lower expenses, and better efficiency ratios combined to deliver excellent results in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021. I am extremely proud of my team's ability to persevere during the pandemic, delivering significant value to customers and shareholders from a remote working environment," said President and CEO Brad Hanson. "During the quarter, we spent time getting ready for the upcoming tax season, implementing H&R Block, and preparing for the distribution of the second round of Economic Impact Payments while advancing our long-standing mission of Financial Inclusion for All®, with increased resources and prioritization of Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives."

"Our quarterly results demonstrate ongoing progress in optimizing our business platforms, enabling us to improve our efficiency ratio by over 600 basis points compared with the prior year. Our loan portfolios continue to perform well, as our credit metrics demonstrate the Company's ability to weather the worst of the pandemic, leaving us well-positioned to continue to remix our balance sheet with higher yield and return earning assets," said Executive Vice President and CFO Glen Herrick.

Business Development Highlights for the 2021 Fiscal First Quarter

  • Began our new three-year program with Emerald Financial Services, LLC, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of H&R Block, Inc., which we announced in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020. Have already moved more than $150 million in deposits and began issuing Emerald Prepaid Mastercard® to applicants.
  • Completed negotiations with the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service ("Fiscal Service") to disperse a second round of Economic Income Payment ("EIP") stimulus payments through the distribution of prepaid cards. The Company began distributing cards under this authorization January 4, 2021.
  • Expanded our solar lending business, increasing our solar credit balance 29% to $323.9 million.
  • Increased resources dedicated to our Environmental, Social, and Governance ("ESG") activities by hiring an experienced Vice President of ESG and Community Impact and forming a Board-level ESG committee to provide oversight.

Financial Highlights for the 2021 Fiscal First Quarter

  • Total revenue for the first quarter was $111.5 million, an increase of 9% compared to $102.1 million for the same quarter in fiscal 2020.
  • Operating efficiency ratio improved to 62.2% at December 31, 2020, compared to 68.2% at December 31, 2019. See non-GAAP reconciliation table below.
  • Net interest income for the first quarter was $66.0 million, compared to $64.7 million in the comparable quarter last year.
  • Net interest margin ("NIM") decreased to 4.65% for the first quarter from 4.94% during the same period of last year, while the tax-equivalent net interest margin ("NIM, TE") decreased to 4.67% from 4.99% for that same period in fiscal 2020. The decrease in NIM during the first quarter was primarily driven by excess cash associated with the Company's participation in the EIP program, as described further below.
  • Total gross loans and leases at December 31, 2020 decreased $143.7 million, or 4%, to $3.44 billion, compared to December 31, 2019 and increased $125.4 million, or 4% when compared to September 30, 2020.
  • Average deposits from the payments division for the fiscal 2021 first quarter increased nearly 83% to $5.07 billion when compared to the same quarter in fiscal 2020. A significant portion of the year-over-year increase reflected the Company's participation in the EIP program, as described further below.
  • The Company repurchased 1,864,474 shares during the first quarter at an average price of $29.46. Through January 20, 2021, the Company repurchased an additional 300,000 of its shares, at a weighted average price of $38.73.

COVID-19 Business Update

As of December 31, 2020, the Company had 612 loans outstanding with total loan balances of $194.3 million originated as part of the Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP"), compared with 689 loans outstanding with total loan balances of $219.0 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2020.

As of December 31, 2020, $84.2 million of the loans and leases that were granted deferral payments by the Company were still in their deferment period. As of September 30, 2020, loans and leases totaling $170.0 million were within their deferment period. In addition, the Company has made other COVID-19 related modifications, of which $1.1 million were still active as of December 31, 2020 compared to $23.3 million at September 30, 2020. The majority of the other modifications were related to adjusting the type or amount of the customer's payments.

The Company's capital position remained strong as of December 31, 2020, even while absorbing the temporary impact resulting from the receipt of deposits in conjunction with EIP payments described below. In addition, the Company has options available that can be used to effectively manage capital levels, including a strong and flexible balance sheet.

EIP Program Update

The Bank is serving as the sole Financial Agent for distributing prepaid debit cards used in the EIP program. The Company's Payments division, in collaboration with Fiserv and Visa, is proud to have provided a safe and secure mechanism for individuals, including the underbanked, to receive their stimulus payments. Under the first round of EIP, approximately $6.42 billion in stimulus payments on 3.6 million prepaid cards were mailed to individuals across the United States. The total balances remaining on the first round of EIP cards were $605.1 million as of December 31, 2020 and $569.2 million as of January 20, 2021.

On December 27, 2020, the U.S. Congress, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (“CAA”), directed the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) to distribute a second round of EIP via the U.S. Treasury to persons in the U.S. eligible to receive them. The Bank entered into an amendment of its existing agreement with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service ("Fiscal Service"), under which the Bank will act as a Financial Agent to Fiscal Service in connection with the provision of prepaid debit card services to disburse a portion of the EIP payments to eligible recipients via Bank-issued prepaid cards.

Under the second round, the Bank disbursed approximately $7.10 billion of EIP payments, with initial payments having begun January 4, 2021. The total balances remaining on the second round of EIP cards were $5.80 billion as of January 20, 2021.

While the EIP Program's impact to earnings is expected to be slightly positive, it continues to temporarily have a significant impact on cash and deposit balances, leading to a reduced NIM along with a corresponding impact on the Company's leverage capital ratios. In conjunction with the Program and its balance sheet impacts, the Bank was granted temporary exemption from its requirements to maintain minimum regulatory capital leverage ratios by the Officer of the Comptroller of the Currency due to deposits received as part of the EIP program. The influx of EIP deposits is not expected to have any material impact on the Company's risk-weighted capital ratios.

The Company is working with other banks to transfer deposits off-balance sheet in an effort to relieve the impact of the substantial influx of deposits related to the second round of EIP.

Net Interest Income
Net interest income for the fiscal 2021 first quarter was $66.0 million, an increase of 2% from the same quarter in fiscal 2020. The increase was primarily driven by a reduction in total interest expense, partially offset by lower overall balances and yields realized on interest earning assets.

During the first fiscal quarter of 2021, loan and lease interest income decreased $7.0 million and investment securities interest income decreased $2.4 million, compared to the prior year quarter, while interest expense decreased $10.8 million over the same period. The quarterly average outstanding balance of loans and leases as a percentage of interest-earning assets for the first quarter decreased to 62%, from 72% for the comparable quarter last year, while the quarterly average balance of total investments as a percentage of interest-earning assets decreased to 23% from 26% over the same period. These decreases were primarily due to the increase in interest-earning cash balances related to the EIP program. The Company’s average interest-earning assets for the fiscal 2021 first quarter increased by $432.9 million, to $5.64 billion compared with the first quarter in fiscal 2020, primarily due to the effects of the EIP program.

NIM decreased to 4.65% for the fiscal 2021 first quarter from 4.94% for the comparable quarter last year, primarily due to the effects of the EIP program.

The overall reported tax-equivalent yield (“TEY”) on average earning asset yields decreased by 116 basis points to 4.82% for the fiscal 2021 first quarter compared to the prior year quarter, driven primarily by excess low-yielding cash held at the Federal Reserve, as well as the lower interest rate environment. The fiscal 2021 first quarter TEY on the securities portfolio was 1.79% compared to 2.65% for the comparable period last year.

The Company's cost of funds for all deposits and borrowings averaged 0.15% during the fiscal 2021 first quarter, compared to 1.01% during the prior year quarter. This reflected primarily a decrease in overnight borrowings rates as well as an increase in the average balance of the Company's noninterest-bearing deposits, mainly due to the EIP program noted above. The Company's overall cost of deposits was 0.06% in the fiscal first quarter of 2021, compared to 0.81% in the same quarter last year.

Noninterest Income
Fiscal 2021 first quarter noninterest income increased to $45.5 million, compared with $37.5 million for the same period of the prior year. This was due primarily to an increase within gain on sale of other, an increase in other income, and an increase in payments cards and deposit fees, partially offset by a decrease in rental income. The increase within gain on sale of other was primarily due to a loss on sale of foreclosed and repossessed assets recognized during the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. The increase within other income was primarily due to the receipt of a portion of the Company’s liquidation insurance claims of unearned premiums on the ReliaMax estate related to the Company’s student loan portfolio. The amount received in the first quarter of fiscal 2021 was $3.5 million.

Noninterest Expense
Noninterest expense decreased 4% to $72.6 million for the fiscal 2021 first quarter, from $75.8 million for the same quarter of last year, primarily driven by decreases in compensation and benefits, other expense, tax product expense, operating lease depreciation, and amortization expense, partially offset by increases within impairment expense, legal and consulting expense, and card processing expense.

Income Tax Expense
The Company recorded income tax expense of $3.5 million, representing an effective tax rate of 10.8%, for the fiscal 2021 first quarter, compared to an income tax expense of $0.7 million, representing an effective tax rate of 3.0%, for the first quarter last year.

The Company originated $38.5 million in solar leases during the fiscal 2021 first quarter, compared to $17.9 million during last year's first quarter. Investment tax credits related to solar leases are recognized ratably based on income throughout each fiscal year. The timing and impact of future solar tax credits are expected to vary from period to period, and Meta intends to undertake only those tax credit opportunities that meet the Company's underwriting and return criteria.

Investments, Loans and Leases

  December 31, 2020   September 30, 2020   June 30, 2020   March 31, 2020   December 31, 2019
Total investments $ 1,309,452        $ 1,360,712        $ 1,268,416        $ 1,310,476        $ 1,337,840     
                   
Loans held for sale                  
Consumer credit products 234        962        391        —        —     
SBA/USDA 32,983        52,542        31,438        13,610        13,883     
Community Bank(1) 100,442        130,073        48,076        —        250,383     
Total loans held for sale 133,659        183,577        79,905        13,610        264,266     
                   
National Lending                  
Term lending 881,306        805,323        738,454        725,581        695,347     
Asset based lending 242,298        182,419        181,130        250,211        250,633     
Factoring 275,650        281,173        206,361        285,495        285,776     
Lease financing 283,722        281,084        264,988        238,788        223,715     
Insurance premium finance 338,227        337,940        359,147        332,800        349,299     
SBA/USDA 300,707        318,387        308,611        92,000        90,269     
Other commercial finance 101,209        101,658        100,214        101,472        99,617     
Commercial Finance 2,423,119        2,307,984        2,158,905        2,026,347        1,994,656     
Consumer credit products 88,595        89,809        102,808        113,544        115,843     
Other consumer finance 162,423        134,342        138,777        144,895        154,772     
Consumer Finance 251,018        224,151        241,585        258,439        270,615     
Tax Services 92,548        3,066        19,168        95,936        101,739     
Warehouse Finance 318,937        293,375        277,614        333,829        272,522     
Total National Lending loans and leases 3,085,622        2,828,576        2,697,272        2,714,551        2,639,532     
Community Banking                  
Commercial real estate and operating 339,141        457,371        608,303        654,429        682,399     
Consumer one-to-four family real estate and other 5,077        16,486        166,479        205,046        220,588     
Agricultural real estate and operating 9,724        11,707        24,655        36,759        40,778     
Total Community Banking loans 353,942        485,564        799,437        896,234        943,765     
Total gross loans and leases 3,439,564        3,314,140        3,496,709        3,610,785        3,583,297     
Allowance for credit losses (72,389 )     (56,188 )     (65,747 )     (65,355 )     (30,176 )  
Net deferred loan and lease origination fees 9,111        8,625        5,937        8,139        7,177     
Total loans and leases, net of allowance $ 3,376,286        $ 3,266,577        $ 3,436,899        $ 3,553,569        $ 3,560,298     

(1) The December 31, 2020 balance included approximately $95.5 million of commercial real estate and operating loans, $3.5 million of consumer one-to-four family real estate and other loans, and $1.4 million of agricultural real estate and operating loans. The September 30, 2020 balance included approximately $77.5 million of commercial real estate and operating loans, $50.1 million of consumer one-to-four family real estate and other loans, and $2.5 million of agricultural real estate and operating loans. The June 30, 2020 balance included approximately $28.7 million of commercial real estate and operating loans, $11.3 million of consumer one-to-four family real estate and other loans, and $8.1 million of agricultural real estate and operating loans. The December 31, 2019 balance included approximately $197.5 million of commercial real estate and operating loans, $40.4 million of consumer one-to-four family real estate and other loans, and $12.7 million of agricultural real estate and operating loans.

The Company's investment security balances at December 31, 2020 totaled $1.31 billion, as compared to $1.36 billion at September 30, 2020 and $1.34 billion at December 31, 2019.

Total gross loans and leases decreased $143.7 million, or 4%, to $3.44 billion at December 31, 2020, from $3.58 billion at December 31, 2019, with most of the decline attributable to the sale of community bank loan balances during the second and fourth quarters of fiscal 2020 and first quarter of fiscal 2021, along with a decrease in the consumer finance portfolio, partially offset by growth in the commercial finance and warehouse finance portfolios.

At December 31, 2020, commercial finance loans, which comprised 70% of the Company's gross loan and lease portfolio, totaled $2.42 billion, reflecting growth of $115.1 million, or 5%, from September 30, 2020. The increase in commercial finance loans was primarily due to increases in term lending and asset based lending loans of $76.0 million and $59.9 million, respectively, partially offset by a $17.7 million decrease in SBA/USDA loans.

Consumer finance loans totaled $251.0 million at December 31, 2020, increasing from $224.2 million at September 30, 2020. This increase was primarily driven by seasonal lending products for tax customers associated with the aforementioned three-year program with Emerald Financial Services.

Tax services loans totaled $92.5 million at December 31, 2020, increasing from $3.1 million at September 30, 2020, as the Company began originating taxpayer advances and ERO loans in preparation of the 2020 tax season during the fiscal 2021 first quarter. Warehouse finance loans totaled $318.9 million at December 31, 2020, a 9% increase from September 30, 2020.

Community bank loans held for investment totaled $353.9 million as of December 31, 2020, as compared to $485.6 million at September 30, 2020 and $943.8 million at December 31, 2019. On November 18, 2020, the Company sold an additional $129.8 million of the retained Community Bank portfolio to Central Bank. The sale did not result in any material gain to the Company. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had $100.4 million of community bank loans classified as held for sale and expects to sell those loans during the second quarter of fiscal year 2021.

Asset Quality
Adoption of Current Expected Credit Losses ("CECL") Accounting Standard
The Company adopted CECL effective October 1, 2020, and its day one entry to increase the allowance for credit losses was $12.8 million. Aside from the loan and lease portfolio, management does not expect any other meaningful impacts on the balance sheet or regulatory capital ratios in the near term based on the election of the two-year delay and the five-year total transition period as allowed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve.

Of the total $12.8 million CECL impact to the Company's allowance, $12.7 million and $6.0 million were within the commercial and consumer finance portfolios, respectively. These increases were partially offset by a reduction in retained community bank's allowance of $5.9 million.

The Company’s allowance for credit losses was $72.4 million at December 31, 2020, compared to $56.2 million at September 30, 2020 and $30.2 million at December 31, 2019. The increase in the allowance at December 31, 2020 when compared to September 30, 2020, was primarily due to the adoption of the CECL accounting standard noted above, as well as additional increases during the fiscal 2021 first quarter in the commercial finance portfolio of $2.8 million, tax services portfolio of $1.4 million, and consumer finance portfolio of $1.4 million, partially offset by an additional decrease within the retained community bank portfolio of $2.2 million.

The year over year increase in the allowance was primarily driven by a $29.6 million increase within the commercial finance portfolio, $7.8 million increase within the retained community banking portfolio, and an increase in the consumer lending portfolio of $5.0 million.

The following table presents the Company's allowance for credit losses as a percentage of its total loans and leases.

  As of the Period Ended
(Unaudited) December 31, 2020 October 1, 2020(1) September 30, 2020 December 31, 2019
         
Commercial finance 1.88  % 1.85  % 1.30  % 0.80  %
Consumer finance 4.39  % 4.31  % 1.64  % 2.22  %
Tax services 1.53  % 0.06  % 0.06  % 1.62  %
Warehouse finance 0.10  % 0.10  % 0.10  % 0.10  %
National Lending 1.89  % 1.86  % 1.20  % 0.90  %
Community Bank 4.01  % 3.37  % 4.59  % 0.68  %
Total loans and leases 2.10  % 2.08  % 1.70  % 0.84  %

(1) Represents the Company's allowance coverage ratio upon the adoption of the Accounting Standards Update 2016-13 using September 30, 2020 loan and lease and allowance balances plus the CECL allowance adjustment.

The Company's allowance for credit losses as a percentage of total loans and leases increased to 2.10% at December 31, 2020 from 1.70% at September 30, 2020. The increase in the coverage ratio was primarily related to the CECL adoption, along with the Company's continued assessment of the risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Warehouse finance remained largely unchanged due in part to the structure of the credit protections in place. The Company expects to continue to diligently monitor the allowance for credit losses and adjust as necessary in future periods to maintain an appropriate and supportable level.

Activity in the allowance for credit losses for the periods presented was as follows.

(Unaudited) Three Months Ended
  December 31, 2020   September 30, 2020   December 31, 2019
(Dollars in thousands)          
Beginning balance $ 56,188        $ 65,747        $ 29,149     
Adoption of CECL accounting standard 12,773        —        —     
Provision - tax services loans 454        1,599        911     
Provision - all other loans and leases 5,810        7,381        2,496     
Charge-offs - tax services loans —        (13,037 )     —     
Charge-offs - all other loans and leases (5,675 )     (6,015 )     (3,918 )  
Recoveries - tax services loans 956              739     
Recoveries - all other loans and leases 1,883        510        799     
Ending balance $ 72,389        $ 56,188        $ 30,176     

Provision for credit losses was $6.1 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2020, compared to $3.4 million for the comparable period in the prior fiscal year. The increase in provision was primarily within the commercial finance and consumer finance portfolios, partially offset by a decrease within the retained community bank portfolio. Net charge-offs were $2.8 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2020 compared to $2.4 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2019.

The Company's past due loans and leases were as follows for the periods presented.

As of December 31, 2020 Accruing and Nonaccruing Loans and Leases   Nonperforming Loans and Leases
(Dollars in Thousands) 30-59 Days
Past Due
  60-89 Days
Past Due
  > 89 Days Past Due   Total Past
Due
  Current   Total Loans and Leases
Receivable
  > 89 Days Past Due and Accruing   Non-accrual balance   Total
                                   
Commercial finance $ 23,448      $ 7,358      $ 14,900      $ 45,706      $ 2,377,413      $ 2,423,119      $ 2,092      $ 18,707      $ 20,799   
Consumer finance 1,415      404      1,132      2,951      248,067      251,018      1,132      —      1,132   
Tax services —      —      —      —      92,548      92,548      —      —      —   
Warehouse finance —      —      —      —      318,937      318,937      —      —      —   
Total National Lending 24,863      7,762      16,032      48,657      3,036,965      3,085,622      3,224      18,707      21,931   
Total Community Banking 13      —      2,379      2,392      351,550      353,942      —      20,389      20,389   
Total loans and leases held for investment $ 24,876      $ 7,762      $ 18,411      $ 51,049      $ 3,388,515      $ 3,439,564      $ 3,224      $ 39,096      $ 42,320   


As of September 30, 2020 Accruing and Nonaccruing Loans and Leases   Nonperforming Loans and Leases
(Dollars in Thousands) 30-59 Days Past Due   60-89 Days Past Due   > 89 Days Past Due   Total Past Due   Current   Total Loans and Leases Receivable   > 89 Days Past Due and Accruing   Non-accrual balance   Total
                                   
Commercial finance $ 13,338      $ 14,345      $ 16,663      $ 44,346      $ 2,263,638      $ 2,307,984      $ 7,400      $ 21,553      $ 28,953   
Consumer finance 977      894      872      2,743      221,408      224,151      872      —      872   
Tax services —      —      1,743      1,743      1,323      3,066      1,744      —      1,744   
Warehouse finance —      —      —      —      293,375      293,375      —      —      —   
Total National Lending 14,315      15,239      19,278      48,832      2,779,744      2,828,576      10,016      21,553      31,569   
Total Community Banking 905      114      2,449      3,468      482,096      485,564      50      2,399      2,449   
Total loans and leases held for investment $ 15,220      $ 15,353      $ 21,727      $ 52,300      $ 3,261,840      $ 3,314,140      $ 10,066      $ 23,952      $ 34,018   

The Company's nonperforming assets at December 31, 2020, were $53.2 million, representing 0.73% of total assets, compared to $48.0 million, or 0.79% of total assets at September 30, 2020 and $29.8 million, or 0.48% of total assets at December 31, 2019. The increase in nonperforming assets on a linked quarter basis was primarily driven by an increase in community bank nonperforming loans, partially offset by decreases in commercial finance and tax services nonperforming loans and leases, and a decrease in nonperforming operating leases. The year-over-year increase in nonperforming assets was primarily within the community bank portfolio, as well as an increase in foreclosed and repossessed assets, partially offset by a reduction within the commercial and consumer finance portfolios. The increase in nonaccrual balances was driven by one Community Bank relationship operating in the movie theater industry that moved to nonaccrual status in the fiscal 2021 first quarter. The overall decrease in nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets at December 31, 2020 was primarily due to higher period-end assets, when compared to September 30, 2020.

The Company's nonperforming loans and leases at December 31, 2020, were $42.3 million, representing 1.18% of total gross loans and leases, compared to $34.0 million, or 0.97% of total gross loans and leases at September 30, 2020 and $24.0 million, or 0.62% of total gross loans and leases at December 31, 2019.

At December 31, 2020, the balance of the Company's loans and leases past due 30 days or greater decreased 2% to $51.0 million when compared to September 30, 2020. When excluding tax services loans, the balance of loans and leases past due 30 days or greater increased to $51.0 million at December 31, 2020 from $50.6 million at September 30, 2020. Loan and lease balances that were within their active deferment period decreased to $84.2 million at December 31, 2020 from $170.0 million at September 30, 2020.

Deposits, Borrowings and Other Liabilities
Total average deposits for the fiscal 2021 first quarter increased by $813.6 million to $5.43 billion compared to the same period in fiscal 2020, primarily due to the effects of the EIP program. Average noninterest-bearing deposits increased $2.15 billion, or 79%, for the fiscal 2021 first quarter when compared to the same period in fiscal 2020, while average wholesale deposits decreased $1.21 billion, or 82%. Average deposits from the payments division increased 83% to $5.07 billion for the fiscal 2021 first quarter when compared to the same period in fiscal 2020. Excluding the balances on the EIP cards, average payments deposits for the fiscal 2021 first quarter were $4.32 billion, representing an increase of 55% compared to the same period of the prior year, which was largely driven by stimulus payments loaded on various partner cards along with lower levels of consumer spending.

The average balance of total deposits and interest-bearing liabilities was $5.52 billion for the three-month period ended December 31, 2020, compared to $5.13 billion for the same period in the prior fiscal year, representing an increase of 8%.

Total end-of-period deposits increased 37% to $6.21 billion at December 31, 2020, compared to $4.52 billion at December 31, 2019. The increase in end-of-period deposits was primarily driven by an increase in noninterest-bearing deposits of $2.65 billion, of which $605.1 million was attributable to the balances on the EIP cards. The increase in total end-of-period deposits was partially offset by a decrease of $1.21 billion in wholesale deposits, as well as the sale of $290.5 million of community bank deposits during the second quarter of fiscal 2020.

Regulatory Capital

The Company and MetaBank remained above the federal regulatory minimum capital requirements at December 31, 2020 and continued to be classified as well-capitalized institutions. Regulatory capital ratios of the Company and the Bank are stated in the table below.

The tables below include certain non-GAAP financial measures that are used by investors, analysts and bank regulatory agencies to assess the capital position of financial services companies. Management reviews these measures along with other measures of capital as part of its financial analysis.

As of the dates indicated December 31, 2020(1)   September 30,
2020
  June 30,
2020
  March 31,
2020
  December 31,
2019
Company                  
Tier 1 leverage capital ratio 7.40  %   6.58  %   5.91  %   7.28  %   8.28  %
Common equity Tier 1 capital ratio 10.76  %   11.78  %   11.51  %   10.27  %   10.10  %
Tier 1 capital ratio 11.11  %   12.18  %   11.90  %   10.63  %   10.46  %
Total capital ratio 14.18  %   15.30  %   14.99  %   13.61  %   12.74  %
MetaBank                  
Tier 1 leverage capital ratio 8.62  %   7.56  %   6.89  %   8.52  %   9.70  %
Common equity Tier 1 capital ratio 12.91  %   13.96  %   13.82  %   12.39  %   12.18  %
Tier 1 capital ratio 12.93  %   14.00  %   13.86  %   12.44  %   12.24  %
Total capital ratio 14.19  %   15.26  %   15.12  %   13.69  %   12.90  %

(1) December 31, 2020 amounts are preliminary pending completion and filing of the Company's regulatory reports. Regulatory capital presented for periods in fiscal year 2021 reflect the Company's election of the five-year CECL transition for regulatory capital purposes.

The following table provides the non-GAAP financial measures used to compute certain of the ratios included in the table above, as well as a reconciliation of such non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measure in accordance with GAAP:

Standardized Approach(1) December 31,
2020
  September 30,
2020
  June 30,
2020
  March 31,
2020
  December 31,
2019
(Dollars in Thousands)                  
Total stockholders' equity $ 813,210      $ 847,308      $ 829,909      $ 805,074      $ 837,068   
Adjustments:                  
LESS: Goodwill, net of associated deferred tax liabilities 301,999      302,396      302,814      303,625      304,020   
LESS: Certain other intangible assets 39,403      40,964      42,865      44,909      47,855   
LESS: Net deferred tax assets from operating loss and tax credit carry-forwards 24,105      18,361      10,360      11,589      16,876   
LESS: Net unrealized gains (losses) on available-for-sale securities 19,894      17,762      8,382      2,337      3,897   
LESS: Non-controlling interest 1,536      3,603      3,787      3,762      4,305   
ADD: Adoption of Accounting Standards Update 2016-13 10,804      —      —      —      —   
Common Equity Tier 1(1) 437,077      464,222      461,701      438,852      460,115   
Long-term borrowings and other instruments qualifying as Tier 1 13,661      13,661      13,661      13,661      13,661   
Tier 1 minority interest not included in common equity tier 1 capital 749      1,894      1,894      2,036      2,372   
Total Tier 1 Capital 451,487      479,777      477,256      454,549      476,148   
Allowance for credit losses 51,070      49,343      50,338      53,580      30,239   
Subordinated debentures (net of issuance costs) 73,850      73,807      73,765      73,724      73,684   
Total qualifying capital $ 576,407      $ 602,927      $ 601,359      $ 581,853      $ 580,071   

(1) Capital ratios were determined using the Basel III capital rules that became effective on January 1, 2015. Basel III revised the definition of capital, increased minimum capital ratios, and introduced a minimum CET1 ratio; those changes are being fully phased in through the end of 2021.

The following table provides a reconciliation of tangible common equity and tangible common equity excluding accumulated other comprehensive income ("AOCI"), each of which is used in calculating tangible book value data, to Total Stockholders' Equity. Each of tangible common equity and tangible common equity excluding AOCI is a non-GAAP financial measure that is commonly used within the banking industry.

  December 31,
2020
  September 30,
2020
  June 30,
2020
  March 31,
2020
  December 31,
2019
(Dollars in Thousands)                  
Total Stockholders' Equity $ 813,210      $ 847,308      $ 829,909      $ 805,074      $ 837,068   
Less: Goodwill 309,505      309,505      309,505      309,505      309,505   
Less: Intangible assets 39,660      41,692      43,974      46,766      50,151   
Tangible common equity 464,045      496,111      476,430      448,803      477,412   
Less: Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) ("AOCI") 20,119      17,542      7,995      1,654      3,895   
Tangible common equity excluding AOCI $ 443,926      $ 478,569      $ 468,435      $ 447,149      $ 473,517   

Conference Call

The Company will host a conference call and earnings webcast at 4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time (5:00 p.m. Eastern Time) on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. The live webcast of the call can be accessed from Meta’s Investor Relations website at www.metafinancialgroup.com. Telephone participants may access the live conference call by dialing (844) 461-9934 beginning approximately 10 minutes prior to start time. Please ask to join the Meta Financial conference call, and provide conference ID 1904899 upon request. International callers should dial (636) 812-6634. A webcast replay will also be archived at www.metafinancialgroup.com for one year.

Annual Meeting of Shareholders

The Annual Meeting of Shareholders will convene at 9:00 a.m. Central Standard Time on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. The meeting will be held virtually via the internet for the safety of the Company's directors, employees, and stockholders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information with regard to this meeting can be found in the proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on January 14, 2021. Copies of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended September 30, 2020 (excluding exhibits thereto) may be obtained from www.metafinancialgroup.com.

Upcoming Investor Events

  • KBW Winter Financial Services Symposium, February 10 - February 12, 2021 | Virtual
  • KBW Fintech Payments Conference, February 23 - February 25, 2021 | Virtual
  • Piper Sandler Western Financial Services Conference, March 2, 2021 | Virtual

Forward-Looking Statements

The Company and MetaBank may from time to time make written or oral “forward-looking statements,” including statements contained in this press release, the Company’s filings with the SEC, the Company’s reports to stockholders, and in other communications by the Company and MetaBank, which are made in good faith by the Company pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

You can identify forward-looking statements by words such as “may,” “hope,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue,” “could,” “future,” or the negative of those terms, or other words of similar meaning or similar expressions. You should carefully read statements that contain these words because they discuss our future expectations or state other “forward-looking” information. These forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to us and assumptions about future events, and include statements with respect to the Company’s beliefs, expectations, estimates, and intentions, which are subject to significant risks and uncertainties, and are subject to change based on various factors, some of which are beyond the Company’s control. Such risks, uncertainties and other factors may cause our actual growth, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows, performance and business prospects and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements. Such statements address, among others, the following subjects: future operating results; expectations in connection with the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions on our business, our industry and the capital markets; customer retention; loan and other product demand; expectations concerning acquisitions and divestitures; new products and services, including those offered by Meta Payment Systems, Refund Advantage, EPS Financial and Specialty Consumer Services divisions; credit quality; the level of net charge-offs and the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses; technology; and the Company's employees. The following factors, among others, could cause the Company's financial performance and results of operations to differ materially from the expectations, estimates, and intentions expressed in such forward-looking statements: maintaining our executive management team; expected growth opportunities may not be realized or may take longer to realize than expected; the potential adverse effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and any governmental or societal responses thereto including the deployment and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, or other unusual and infrequently occurring events; actual changes in interest rates and the Fed Funds rate; additional changes in tax laws; the strength of the United States' economy, in general, and the strength of the local economies in which the Company operates; changes in trade, monetary, and fiscal policies and laws, including interest rate policies of the Federal Reserve; inflation, market, and monetary fluctuations; the timely and efficient development of, and acceptance of, new products and services offered by the Company or its strategic partners, as well as risks (including reputational and litigation) attendant thereto, and the perceived overall value of these products and services by users; the risks of dealing with or utilizing third parties, including, in connection with the Company’s refund advance business, the risk of reduced volume of refund advance loans as a result of reduced customer demand for or usage of Meta’s strategic partners’ refund advance products; our relationship with, and any actions which may be initiated by, our regulators; the impact of changes in financial services laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, laws and regulations relating to the tax refund industry and the insurance premium finance industry and recent and potential changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic such as the CARES Act and the rules and regulations that may be promulgated thereunder; technological changes, including, but not limited to, the protection of our electronic systems and information; the impact of acquisitions and divestitures; litigation risk; the growth of the Company’s business, as well as expenses related thereto; continued maintenance by MetaBank of its status as a well-capitalized institution, particularly in light of our deposit base, a portion of which has been characterized as “brokered;” changes in consumer spending and saving habits; the impact of our participation as prepaid card issuer for the EIP program and potentially similar programs in the future; losses from fraudulent or illegal activity; technological risks and developments and cyber threats, attacks, or events; and the success of the Company at maintaining its high quality asset level and managing and collecting assets of borrowers in default should problem assets increase.

The foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. We caution you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included in this press release speak only as of the date hereof. Additional discussions of factors affecting the Company’s business and prospects are reflected under the caption “Risk Factors” and in other sections of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the Company’s fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, and in other filings made with the SEC. The Company expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by or on behalf of the Company or its subsidiaries, whether as a result of new information, changed circumstances, or future events or for any other reason.

Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition (Unaudited)
(Dollars in Thousands, Except Share Data)

ASSETS December 31, 2020   September 30, 2020   June 30, 2020   March 31, 2020   December 31, 2019
Cash and cash equivalents $ 1,586,451        $ 427,367        $ 3,108,141        $ 108,733        $ 152,189     
Investment securities available for sale, at fair value 797,363        814,495        825,579        840,525        852,603     
Mortgage-backed securities available for sale, at fair value 430,761        453,607        338,250        355,094        362,120     
Investment securities held to maturity, at cost 76,176        87,183        98,205        108,105        116,313     
Mortgage-backed securities held to maturity, at cost 5,152        5,427        6,382        6,752        6,804     
Loans held for sale 133,659        183,577        79,905        13,610        264,266     
Loans and leases 3,448,675        3,322,765        3,502,646        3,618,924        3,590,474     
Allowance for credit losses (72,389 )     (56,188 )     (65,747 )     (65,355 )     (30,176 )  
Federal Reserve Bank and Federal Home Loan Bank stocks, at cost 27,138        27,138        31,836        29,944        13,796     
Accrued interest receivable 17,133        16,628        17,545        16,958        18,687     
Premises, furniture, and equipment, net 39,932        41,608        40,361        38,871        38,671     
Rental equipment, net 206,732        205,964        216,336        200,837        211,673     
Bank-owned life insurance 92,937        92,315        91,697        91,081        90,458     
Foreclosed real estate and repossessed assets 7,186        9,957        6,784        7,249        1,328     
Goodwill 309,505        309,505        309,505        309,505        309,505     
Intangible assets 39,660        41,692        43,974        46,766        50,151     
Prepaid assets 11,270        8,328        6,806        9,727        14,813     
Deferred taxes 24,411        17,723        15,944        20,887        19,752     
Other assets 82,763        82,983        104,877        85,652        97,499     
                   
Total assets $ 7,264,515        $ 6,092,074        $ 8,779,026        $ 5,843,865        $ 6,180,926     
                   
LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY                  
                   
LIABILITIES                  
Deposits held for sale $ —        $ —        $ —        $ —        $ 288,975     
Deposits:                  
Noninterest-bearing checking 5,581,597        4,356,630        6,537,809        2,900,484        2,927,967     
Interest-bearing checking 274,504        157,571        187,003        152,504        67,642     
Savings deposits 54,080        47,866        55,896        37,615        17,436     
Money market deposits 56,440        48,494        40,811        37,266        42,286     
Time certificates of deposit 13,522        20,223        25,000        25,492        23,454     
Wholesale deposits 227,648        348,416        743,806        809,043        1,438,820     
Total deposits 6,207,791        4,979,200        7,590,325        3,962,404        4,517,605     
Short-term borrowings —        —        —        717,000        194,000     
Long-term borrowings 96,760        98,224        209,781        211,353        213,070     
Accrued interest payable 2,068        1,923        4,332        3,607        6,620     
Accrued expenses and other liabilities 144,686        165,419        144,679        144,427        123,588     
Total liabilities 6,451,305        5,244,766        7,949,117        5,038,791        5,343,858     
                   
STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY                  
Preferred stock —        —        —        —        —     
Common stock, $.01 par value 326        344        346        346        372     
Common stock, Nonvoting, $.01 par value —        —        —        —        —     
Additional paid-in capital 598,669        594,569        592,693        590,682        587,678     
Retained earnings 198,000        234,927        228,500        212,027        244,005     
Accumulated other comprehensive income 20,119        17,542        7,995        1,654        3,895     
Treasury stock, at cost (5,440 )     (3,677 )     (3,412 )     (3,397 )     (3,187 )  
Total equity attributable to parent 811,674        843,705        826,122        801,312        832,763     
Noncontrolling interest 1,536        3,603        3,787        3,762        4,305     
Total stockholders’ equity 813,210        847,308        829,909        805,074        837,068     
                   
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity $ 7,264,515        $ 6,092,074        $ 8,779,026        $ 5,843,865        $ 6,180,926     

Consolidated Statements of Operations (Unaudited)
(Dollars in Thousands, Except Share and Per Share Data)

  Three Months Ended
  December 31, 2020   September 30, 2020   December 31, 2019
Interest and dividend income:          
Loans and leases, including fees $ 61,655      $ 62,022        $ 68,702     
Mortgage-backed securities 2,123      1,877        2,389     
Other investments 4,368      4,508        6,534     
  68,146      68,407        77,625     
Interest expense:          
Deposits 797      1,904        9,340     
FHLB advances and other borrowings 1,350      1,990        3,634     
  2,147      3,894        12,974     
           
Net interest income 65,999      64,513        64,651     
           
Provision for credit losses 6,089      8,980        3,407     
           
Net interest income after provision for loan and lease losses 59,910      55,533        61,244     
           
Noninterest income:          
Refund transfer product fees 647      2,335        192     
Tax advance product fees 1,960      (14 )     2,276     
Payments card and deposit fees 22,564      21,422        21,499     
Other bank and deposit fees 237      228        487     
Rental income 9,885      10,144        12,351     
Gain on sale of securities available-for-sale, net —      51        —     
Gain (loss) on sale of other 2,847      3,455        (2,568 )  
Other income 7,315      3,129        3,246     
Total noninterest income 45,455      40,750        37,483     
           
Noninterest expense:          
Compensation and benefits 32,331      35,616        34,268     
Refund transfer product expense 61      162        173     
Tax advance product expense 370      (97 )     1,132     
Card processing 6,117      6,524        5,607     
Occupancy and equipment expense 6,888      6,826        6,655     
Operating lease equipment depreciation 7,581      7,594        8,280     
Legal and consulting 5,247      5,615        4,674     
Intangible amortization 2,013      2,283        2,676     
Impairment expense 1,159      1,232        242     
Other expense 10,808      14,528        12,091     
Total noninterest expense 72,575      80,283        75,798     
           
Income before income tax expense 32,790      16,000        22,929     
           
Income tax expense 3,533      1,791        680     
           
Net income before noncontrolling interest 29,257      14,209        22,249     
Net income attributable to noncontrolling interest 1,220      1,051        1,181     
Net income attributable to parent $ 28,037      $ 13,158        $ 21,068     
           
Earnings per common share          
Basic $ 0.84      $ 0.38        $ 0.56     
Diluted $ 0.84      $ 0.38        $ 0.56     
Shares used in computing earnings per common share          
Basic 32,782,285      33,783,659        36,613,699     
Diluted 32,790,895      33,783,659        36,647,789     

Average Balances, Interest Rates and Yields

The following table presents, for the periods indicated, the total dollar amount of interest income from average interest-earning assets and the resulting yields, as well as the interest expense on average interest-bearing liabilities, expressed both in dollars and in rates. Only the yield/rate reflects tax-equivalent adjustments. Nonaccruing loans and leases have been included in the table as loans carrying a zero yield.

Three Months Ended December 31, 2020   2019
(Dollars in Thousands) Average
Outstanding
Balance
  Interest
Earned /
Paid
  Yield /
Rate(1)
  Average
Outstanding
Balance
  Interest
Earned /
Paid
  Yield /
Rate(1)
Interest-earning assets:                      
Cash and fed funds sold $ 820,108      $ 842      0.41  %   $ 99,597      $ 412      1.65  %
Mortgage-backed securities 438,610      2,123      1.92  %   376,358      2,389      2.53  %
Tax exempt investment securities 333,729      1,215      1.83  %   490,982      2,339      2.40  %
Asset-backed securities 326,315      1,200      1.46  %   303,885      2,354      3.08  %
Other investment securities 221,986      1,111      1.98  %   197,513      1,429      2.88  %
Total investments 1,320,640      5,649      1.79  %   1,368,738      8,511      2.65  %
Commercial finance loans and leases 2,417,691      45,630      7.49  %   1,980,509      44,781      9.00  %
Consumer finance loans 239,618      4,748      7.86  %   270,612      5,790      8.51  %
Tax services loans 25,104          0.13  %   24,429      33      0.54  %
Warehouse finance loans 284,199      4,933      6.89  %   265,564      4,174      6.25  %
National lending loans and leases 2,966,612      55,319      7.40  %   2,541,114      54,778      8.58  %
Community banking loans 529,085      6,336      4.75  %   1,194,082      13,924      4.64  %
Total loans and leases 3,495,697      61,655      7.00  %   3,735,196      68,702      7.32  %
Total interest-earning assets $ 5,636,445      $ 68,146      4.82  %   $ 5,203,531      $ 77,625      5.98  %
Non-interest-earning assets 845,378              918,973           
Total assets $ 6,481,823              $ 6,122,504           
                       
Interest-bearing liabilities:                      
Interest-bearing checking(2) $ 162,748      $ —      —  %   $ 163,693      $ 153      0.37  %
Savings deposits 52,198          0.01  %   48,776          0.08  %
Money market deposits 52,620      39      0.30  %   80,528      205      1.01  %
Time certificates of deposit 17,390      57      1.30  %   114,924      595      2.06  %
Wholesale deposits 261,136      699      1.06  %   1,472,820      8,378      2.26  %
Total interest-bearing deposits 546,092      797      0.58  %   1,880,741      9,340      1.98  %
Overnight fed funds purchased 11      —      0.25  %   302,804      1,450      1.91  %
FHLB advances —      —      —  %   110,000      678      2.45  %
Subordinated debentures 73,822      1,147      6.16  %   73,658      1,160      6.26  %
Other borrowings 23,870      203      3.37  %   33,589      346      4.10  %
Total borrowings 97,703      1,350      5.48  %   520,051      3,634      2.78  %
Total interest-bearing liabilities 643,795      2,147      1.32  %   2,400,792      12,974      5.15  %
Noninterest-bearing deposits 4,880,352      —      —  %   2,732,062      —      —  %
Total deposits and interest-bearing liabilities $ 5,524,147      $ 2,147      0.15  %   $ 5,132,854      $ 12,974      1.01  %
Other noninterest-bearing liabilities 151,528              150,319           
Total liabilities 5,675,675              5,283,173           
Shareholders' equity 806,148              839,331           
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity $ 6,481,823              $ 6,122,504           
Net interest income and net interest rate spread including noninterest-bearing deposits     $ 65,999      4.67  %       $ 64,651      4.97  %
                       
Net interest margin         4.65  %           4.94  %
Tax-equivalent effect         0.02  %           0.05  %
Net interest margin, tax-equivalent(3)         4.67  %           4.99  %

(1) Tax rate used to arrive at the TEY for the three months ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 was 21%.
(2) Of the total balance, $162.5 million are interest-bearing deposits where interest expense is paid by a third party and not by the Company.

(3) Net interest margin expressed on a fully-taxable-equivalent basis ("net interest margin, tax-equivalent") is a non-GAAP financial measure. The tax-equivalent adjustment to net interest income recognizes the estimated income tax savings when comparing taxable and tax-exempt assets and adjusting for federal and state exemption of interest income. The Company believes that it is a standard practice in the banking industry to present net interest margin expressed on a fully taxable equivalent basis and, accordingly, believes the presentation of this non-GAAP financial measure may be useful for peer comparison purposes.

Selected Financial Information

As of and For the Three Months Ended December 31,
2020
  September 30,
2020
  June 30,
2020
  March 31,
2020
  December 31,
2019
Equity to total assets 11.19  %   13.91  %   9.45  %   13.78  %   13.54  %
Book value per common share outstanding $ 24.93      $ 24.66      $ 23.96      $ 23.26      $ 22.52   
Tangible book value per common share outstanding $ 14.23      $ 14.44      $ 13.76      $ 12.97      $ 12.84   
Tangible book value per common share outstanding excluding AOCI $ 13.61      $ 13.93      $ 13.53      $ 12.92      $ 12.74   
Common shares outstanding 32,620,251      34,360,890      34,631,160      34,607,962      37,172,081   
Nonperforming assets to total assets 0.73  %   0.79  %   0.64  %   0.67  %   0.48  %
Nonperforming loans and leases to total loans and leases 1.18  %   0.97  %   1.10  %   0.87  %   0.62  %
Net interest margin 4.65  %   3.77  %   3.28  %   4.78  %   4.94  %
Net interest margin, tax-equivalent 4.67  %   3.79  %   3.31  %   4.82  %   4.99  %
Return on average assets 1.73  %   0.69  %   0.86  %   3.16  %   1.38  %
Return on average equity 13.91  %   6.21  %   8.83  %   25.15  %   10.04  %
Full-time equivalent employees 1,038      1,015      999      992      1,088   

Non-GAAP Reconciliation

Efficiency Ratio For the last twelve months ended
(Dollars in Thousands) December 31,
2020
  September 30,
2020
  June 30,
2020
  March 31,
2020
  December 31,
2019
Noninterest Expense - GAAP $ 315,828      $ 319,051      $ 314,911      $ 316,138      $ 334,663   
Net Interest Income 260,386      259,038      260,142      264,973      268,586   
Noninterest Income 247,766      239,794      235,024      237,766      222,278   
Total Revenue: GAAP $ 508,152      $ 498,832      $ 495,166      $ 502,739      $ 490,864   
Efficiency Ratio, last twelve months 62.15  %   63.96  %   63.60  %   62.88  %   68.18  %


About Meta Financial Group, Inc.®
Meta Financial Group, Inc.®(Nasdaq: CASH) is a South Dakota-based financial holding company. Meta Financial Group’s subsidiary, MetaBank®, N.A., is a financial enablement company that works with innovators to increase financial availability, choice, and opportunity for all. MetaBank strives to remove barriers that traditional institutions put in the way of financial access, and promote economic mobility by providing responsible, secure, high quality financial products that contribute to individuals and communities at the core of the real economy. Additional information can be found by visiting www.metafinancialgroup.com or www.metabank.com.

Investor Relations Contact:  
Brittany Kelley Elsasser  
Director of Investor Relations  
605-362-2423  
bkelley@metabank.com  
   
Media Relations:  
mediarelations@metabank.com  



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