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Sky Financial profit up 23% in 03 from 02

BOWLING GREEN - Optimistic about its future, northwest Ohio s largest bank holding company reported yesterday that it had strong earnings last year.

Sky Financial Group Inc., parent company of Sky Bank, said it had a profit last year of $157 million, or $1.73 a share, up 23 percent from $128 million, or $1.52 a share, the year before.

Its net interest income after provision for loan losses was $378 million, up 19 percent from $318 million the previous year.

Sky had a strong finish in 2003 also. For the fourth quarter, the firm said it had a profit of $41.5 million, or 45 cents a share, up from $33.9 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. For the quarter, it reported net interest income of $98 million, up 14 percent from $86 million a year earlier.

The company continued to add presence in the greater Cleveland area, acquiring GLB Bancorp Inc. in Lake County s Mentor last year. GLB owned Great Lakes Bank, a $209 million institution with 13 offices. Another purchase, a $321 million takeover of Second Bancorp in Warren, Ohio, is pending.

“We think 2003 was a very good year for us, and the fourth quarter was a nice finish to that very good year,” said Kevin Thompson, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

For the year, Sky said it had assets of $12.9 billion, up from $11 billion a year earlier. It also reported reserves for loan losses at $42.7 million, down about $1 million from a year ago.

Wall Street wasn t impressed by the earnings report, though. Sky s stock closed down 17 cents yesterday at $27.53 a share on Nasdaq.

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