Silver State’s Gain Disappears
The distressed $712 million Silver State Schools Credit Union of Las Vegas confirmed again what analysts had expected: a first-half $2.8 million loss. But its new management continued again last week to claim progress is being made toward recovery.
The privately insured Nevada CU, which had been operating under a state regulatory consent order and had racked up year-after-year, multi-million dollar losses is still looking to post a profit by year end, said Andrew Hunter, president/CEO.
“We expect to restore the $2.8 million we lost in the first half,” predicted Hunter, the retired Patelco CEO who assumed the Silver State helm July 11, succeeding attorney David Rhamy. Rhamy had held the job throughout the Nevada recession, which clobbered the CU with huge loan losses.
Silver State did report a small net gain in the first quarter, but it was erased in the second quarter after the CU added significantly to loan-loss reserves.
Hunter, who was recruited to the Silver State slot by American Share Insurance, the Dublin, Ohio-based private insurer, said while the CU did record a second-quarter net loss of $2.9 million, the year-to-date stats “compare favorably with a net loss of $13.4 million for the same period of 2010.”
In striving to paint a rosier picture, Hunter said the primary factor in the second-quarter net loss was an increase in the allowance from $22.5 million at quarter end to $28 million.
“The increase in reserves for loan losses doesn’t reflect deterioration in the loan portfolio,” maintained Hunter. “Since quarter’s end, delinquency has increased only slightly, from $44 million to $45 million. The increase in loan-loss reserves, rather. is primarily the result of a more sophisticated, thorough and ultimately more conservative process of evaluating our loan portfolio.”
While analysts expressed alarm over Silver State’s 4% net worth and shrinking assets–down $300 million in five quarters–Hunter contended that there are mitigating factors relating to loan-loss reserves and the phenomenon of CUs everywhere witnessing declining balances of high-interest CDs.
So, he said, the assets are falling but “not in a bad way.”
He said also Silver State has $4.8 million in assets in process of liquidation, which reflects the fair market value of repossessed autos and real estate. “All losses on those have already been recognized and will not affect future profits,” he said.
In an interview, Hunter also dismissed rumors circulating for years that Silver State, Nevada’s largest CU, might still pursue a merger partner.
On the contrary, insisted Hunter, Nevada schools represent “an excellent field of membership…a great field and those members deserve” their own CU to serve their needs.
At the same time, Hunter told Credit Union Times that the financial turnaround for the Las Vegas CU remains extremely difficult but doable despite the very poor Nevada economy. Among the positive signs, he noted that many of the drastic school cuts and teacher layoffs in Nevada have already occurred “and hiring is up and higher enrollments are good for us.”
While the unemployment rate remains at 13.8%, highest in the nation, good things are happening, he said, with real estate values hitting bottom and tourism increasing.
Stressing that the CU is on the right track and “is working well except for the challenges on loan losses,” he admitted to “some reverse sticker shock” after reviewing the market value on some of the properties the CU financed.
In one of his first management changes, Hunter appointed Steve VanSickler chief lending officer. VanSickler was previously vice president of lending at Visterra CU in Moreno Valley, Calif.