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VOL. 126 | NO. 21 | Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Metropolitan Bank Experiences Strong 2010

By Andy Meek

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One newspaper last year referred to Metropolitan Bank as the “the little bank that could.”

In 2010, Metropolitan was the little bank that did, much to the delight of its president and CEO Curt Gabardi, along with the rest of his executive team.

Gabardi, a former West Tennessee president for Regions Bank, acquired with a group of investors in 2008 a bank with $60 million in assets that became what’s now Metropolitan. The bank notched its first profit in late 2009 several months ahead of schedule, and Gabardi already was thinking big at the start of 2010.

He was publicly making note of a hoped-for $500 million in assets for Metropolitan by the end of the year. Sure enough, at fiscal year-end 2010 the bank’s assets had grown to $506 million from $381 million the prior year – a 32 percent increase.

Looking at almost every major metric, Metropolitan’s numbers either grew or beat the bank’s internal expectations. According to pre-audit figures, year-over-year deposits were up 41 percent, earnings per share of $0.21 beat expectations by a penny and net income was about $1.4 million, reversing a loss of about $1.3 million in 2009.

Metropolitan, which has co-headquarters in Memphis and in Ridgeland, Miss., doesn’t expect that pattern to let up and still feels the same way it did on day one – that the field is ripe for a small, nimble bank run by seasoned executives who follow a careful growth plan built largely around intimacy with clients.

“We expect more of the same in 2011 as we continue to show the same unwavering dedication to our clients, shareholders and associates that has been the Metropolitan story from day one,” reads Metropolitan’s shareholder letter for year-end 2010 that went out in January.

Among new things in store for Metropolitan shareholders this year, the bank is stepping up the frequency of its communications. It’s transitioning to a new quarterly newsletter that will be available by mail or online.

In the letter, Gabardi will continue sharing his insight on the bank’s performance and overall progress.

During 2010, that growth came in several forms. The bank raised more than $11 million in new capital, for example, thus building up a deep war chest along with a strong balance sheet the bank can use to finance any number of plans, including growth by acquisition.

“We’re being very careful, very surgical, because our strategy’s not a retail branch strategy,” Gabardi said as the year drew to a close.

Among Metropolitan’s other highlights from 2010, mortgage revenues were $1.3 million, return on average equity was 2.94 percent and return on average assets was .33 percent.

“These numbers represent significant milestones for which all of our constituents and shareholders can be extremely proud,” the year-end letter reads.

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