k123111.htm

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
FORM 10-K
     
 
[X] ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2011
 
OR
[   ] TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM __________to    __________
 
Commission File Number 0-26584
BANNER CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
     
 Washington    91-1691604
 (State or other jurisdiction of incorporation    (I.R.S. Employer
 or organization)    Identification Number)
 
10 South First Avenue, Walla Walla, Washington 99362
(Address of principal executive offices and zip code)
 
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (509) 527-3636
     
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 Common Stock, par value $.01 per share    The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC
  (Title of Each Class)    (Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered)
 
Securities registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act:
None.
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities ActYes  ____No
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act Yes ____NoX
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes   X    No  ____
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files) Yes   X     No  ____
 
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulations S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ____
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See definition of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:
 
Large accelerated filer  ____ Accelerated filer  X Non-accelerated filer  ____ Smaller reporting company ____
   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act)Yes  ____NoX
 
The aggregate market value of the voting and nonvoting common equity held by nonaffiliates of the registrant based on the closing sales price
of the registrant’s common stock quoted on The NASDAQ Stock Market on June 30, 2011, was:
Common Stock - $284,377,188
 
(The exclusion from such amount of the market value of the shares owned by any person shall not be deemed an admission by the Registrant
that such person is an affiliate of the Registrant.)
 
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s classes of common stock as of February 29, 2012:
Common Stock, $.01 par value – 17,878,229 shares
 
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of Proxy Statement for Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held April 24, 2012 are incorporated by reference into Part III.
 


 
 

 


 
BANNER CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
   
 
Table of Contents
   
 
PART I
 
Page Number
   
   
Item 1.
Business
 
4
     
General
 
4
     
Recent Developments
 
5
     
Lending Activities
 
6
     
Asset Quality
 
10
     
Investment Activities
 
11
     
Deposit Activities and Other Sources of Funds
 
12
     
Personnel
 
13
     
Taxation
 
13
     
Competition
 
13
     
Regulation
 
13
     
Management Personnel
 
20
     
Corporate Information
 
21
   
Item 1A.
Risk Factors
 
22
   
Item 1B.
Unresolved Staff Comments
 
30
   
Item 2.
Properties
 
30
   
Item 3.
Legal Proceedings
 
30
   
Item 4.
Mine Safety Disclosures
 
 
 
 
PART II
   
   
   
Item 5.
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
31
   
Item 6.
Selected Financial Data
 
33
   
Item 7.
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
 
35
     
Executive Overview
 
35
     
Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010
 
40
     
Comparison of Results of Operations
 
     
Year ended December 31, 2011 and 2010
 
58
     
Year ended December 31, 2010 and 2009
 
67
     
Market Risk and Asset/Liability Management
 
70
   
                                  Liquidity and Capital Resources
 
75
   
                                  Capital Requirements
 
75
   
                                  Effect of Inflation and Changing Prices
 
76
   
                                  Contractual Obligations
 
76
   
Item 7A.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
 
76
   
Item 8.
Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
 
76
   
Item 9.
Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
 
76
   
Item 9A.
Controls and Procedures
 
77
   
Item 9B.
Other Information
 
77
   
 
PART III
   
   
   
Item 10.
Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
 
78
   
Item 11.
Executive Compensation
 
78
   
Item 12.
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
78
   
Item 13.
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
 
78
   
Item 14.
Principal Accounting Fees and Services
 
78
   
 
PART IV
   
   
   
Item 15.
Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
 
79
     
Signatures
 
80

 
 

 

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain matters in this Form 10-K constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements relate to our financial condition, results of operations, plans, objectives, future performance or business.  Forward-looking statements are not statements of historical fact, are based on certain assumptions and are generally identified by use of the words “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “plans,” “targets,” “potentially,” “probably,” “projects,” “outlook” or similar expressions or future or conditional verbs such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “would” and “could.”  Forward-looking statements include statements with respect to our beliefs, plans, objectives, goals, expectations, assumptions and statements about future economic performance and projections of financial items.  These forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results anticipated or implied by our forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to: the credit risks of lending activities, including changes in the level and trend of loan delinquencies and write-offs and changes in our allowance for loan losses and provision for loan losses that may be impacted by deterioration in the housing and commercial real estate markets and may lead to increased losses and nonperforming assets in our loan portfolio, and may result in our allowance for loan losses not being adequate to cover actual losses and require us to materially increase our reserves; changes in general economic conditions, either nationally or in our market areas; changes in the levels of general interest rates and the relative differences between short and long-term interest rates, deposit interest rates, our net interest margin and funding sources; fluctuations in the demand for loans, the number of unsold homes, land and other properties and fluctuations in real estate values in our market areas; secondary market conditions for loans and our ability to sell loans in the secondary market; results of examinations of us by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the Federal Reserve Board) and of our bank subsidiaries by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the FDIC), the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Banks (the Washington DFI) or other regulatory authorities, including the possibility that any such regulatory authority may, among other things, institute a formal or informal enforcement action against us or any of the Banks which could require us to increase our reserve for loan losses, write-down assets, change our regulatory capital position or affect our ability to borrow funds, or maintain or increase deposits, or impose additional requirements and restrictions on us, any of which could adversely affect our liquidity and earnings; our compliance with regulatory enforcement actions; the requirements and restrictions that have been imposed upon Banner and Banner Bank under the memoranda of understanding with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (in the case of Banner) and the FDIC and the Washington DFI (in the case of Banner Bank) and the possibility that Banner and Banner Bank will be unable to fully comply with the memoranda of understanding, which could result in the imposition of additional requirements or restrictions; legislative or regulatory changes that adversely affect our business including changes in regulatory policies and principles, or the interpretation of regulatory capital or other rules; the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the implementing regulations; our ability to attract and retain deposits; increases in premiums for deposit insurance; our ability to control operating costs and expenses; the use of estimates in determining fair value of certain of our assets and liabilities, which estimates may prove to be incorrect and result in significant changes in valuation; difficulties in reducing risk associated with the loans on our balance sheet; staffing fluctuations in response to product demand or the implementation of corporate strategies that affect our work force and potential associated charges; the failure or security breach of computer systems on which we depend; our ability to retain key members of our senior management team; costs and effects of litigation, including settlements and judgments; our ability to implement our business strategies; our ability to successfully integrate any assets, liabilities, customers, systems, and management personnel we may acquire into our operations and our ability to realize related revenue synergies and cost savings within expected time frames and any goodwill charges related thereto; our ability to manage loan delinquency rates; increased competitive pressures among financial services companies; changes in consumer spending, borrowing and savings habits; the availability of resources to address changes in laws, rules, or regulations or to respond to regulatory actions; our ability to pay dividends on our common and preferred stock and interest or principal payments on our junior subordinated debentures; adverse changes in the securities markets; inability of key third-party providers to perform their obligations to us; changes in accounting policies and practices, as may be adopted by the financial institution regulatory agencies or the Financial Accounting Standards Board including additional guidance and interpretation on accounting issues and details of the implementation of new accounting methods; the economic impact of war or any terrorist activities; other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory, and technological factors affecting our operations, pricing, products and services; future legislative changes in the United States Department of Treasury (Treasury) Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Capital Purchase Program; and other risks detailed from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including this report on Form 10-K.  Any forward-looking statements are based upon management’s beliefs and assumptions at the time they are made.  We do not undertake and specifically disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements included in this report or the reasons why actual results could differ from those contained in such statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.  These risks could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements by, or on behalf of, us.  In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking statements discussed in this report might not occur, and you should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.

As used throughout this report, the terms “we,” “our,” “us,” or the “Company” refer to Banner Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries, unless the context otherwise requires.  All references to “Banner” refer to Banner Corporation and those to “the Banks” refer to its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, collectively.
 
 
 
3

 

PART 1
 
 
Item 1 – Business   General  
 
Banner Corporation (the Company) is a bank holding company incorporated in the State of Washington. We are primarily engaged in the business of planning, directing and coordinating the business activities of our wholly-owned subsidiaries, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank.  Banner Bank is a Washington-chartered commercial bank that conducts business from its main office in Walla Walla, Washington and, as of December 31, 2011, its 86 branch offices and seven loan production offices located in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Islanders Bank is also a Washington-chartered commercial bank that conducts business from three locations in San Juan County, Washington.  Banner Corporation is subject to regulation by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the Federal Reserve Board).  Banner Bank and Islanders Bank (the Banks) are subject to regulation by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Banks (the DFI) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the FDIC).  As of December 31, 2011, we had total consolidated assets of $4.3 billion, net loans of $3.2 billion, total deposits of $3.5 billion and total stockholders’ equity of $532 million.

Banner Bank is a regional bank which offers a wide variety of commercial banking services and financial products to individuals, businesses and public sector entities in its primary market areas.  Islanders Bank is a community bank which offers similar banking services to individuals, businesses and public entities located in the San Juan Islands.  Our primary business is that of traditional banking institutions, accepting deposits and originating loans in locations surrounding our offices in portions of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Banner Bank is also an active participant in the secondary market, engaging in mortgage banking operations largely through the origination and sale of one- to four-family residential loans.  Lending activities include commercial business and commercial real estate loans, agriculture business loans, construction and land development loans, one- to four-family residential loans and consumer loans.  A portion of Banner Bank’s construction and mortgage lending activities are conducted through its subsidiary, Community Financial Corporation (CFC), which is located in the Lake Oswego area of Portland, Oregon.  Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “BANR.”  As discussed more thoroughly below and in later sections of this report, increased loan delinquencies and defaults, particularly in the residential construction and land development portions of our loan portfolio, have materially adversely affected our results of operations for the past four years.  While delinquencies and other non-performing assets at December 31, 2011 were substantially reduced from a year earlier and our 2011 results of operations were much improved including a return to profitability, it is still difficult to predict when and how general economic conditions and the weak housing markets that caused this increased level of delinquencies and defaults will meaningfully improve.  However, we are encouraged by the recent quicker pace of problem asset resolution as well as the significant reduction in non-performing assets over the last year and remain diligent in our efforts to further improve our risk profile.  Our goal is to position Banner Corporation with a moderate risk profile and to maintain that profile going forward.

Since becoming a public company in 1995, we have invested significantly in expanding our branch and distribution systems with a primary emphasis on strengthening our market presence in our five primary markets in the Northwest.  Those markets include the four largest metropolitan areas in the Northwest: the Puget Sound region of Washington and the greater Boise, Idaho, Portland, Oregon, and Spokane, Washington markets, as well as our historical base in the vibrant agricultural communities in the Columbia Basin region of Washington and Oregon.  Our aggressive franchise expansion during this period included the acquisition and consolidation of eight commercial banks, as well as the opening of 27 new branches and relocating nine others.  Over the past ten years, we also invested heavily in advertising campaigns designed to significantly increase the brand awareness for Banner Bank.  These investments, which have been significant elements in our strategies to grow loans, deposits and customer relationships, have increased our presence within desirable marketplaces and allow us to better serve existing and future customers.  This emphasis on growth and development resulted in an elevated level of operating expenses during much of this period; however, we believe that the expanded branch network and heightened brand awareness have created a franchise that is well positioned to allow us to successfully execute on our super community bank model.  That strategy is focused on delivering customers, including middle market and small businesses, business owners, their families and employees, a compelling value proposition by providing the financial sophistication and breadth of products of a regional bank while retaining the appeal and superior service level of a community bank.

Weak economic conditions and ongoing strains in the financial and housing markets which accelerated during 2008 and generally continued through 2011 have created an unusually challenging environment for banks and their holding companies, including Banner Corporation.  This has been particularly evident in our need to provide for credit losses during this period at significantly higher levels than our historical experience and has also adversely affected our net interest income and other operating revenues and expenses.  For the year ended December 31, 2011, we had net income of $5.5 million which, after providing for the preferred stock dividend and related discount accretion, resulted in a net loss to common shareholders of $2.4 million, or ($0.15) per diluted share.  Although continuing to be adversely impacted by the weak economy, our 2011 performance was substantially improved compared to a net loss to common shareholders of $69.7 million, or ($7.21) per diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2010.  Our provision for loan losses was $35.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to $70.0 million recorded in the prior year.  Throughout the period 2008 through 2011, higher than historical provision for loan losses has been the most significant factor affecting our operating results and, while we are encouraged by the continuing reduction in our exposure to residential construction loans as well as the significant decrease in non-performing assets and the slowdown in the emergence of new problem assets, looking forward we anticipate our credit costs will remain elevated for a few more quarters.  (See Note 6 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, as well as “Asset Quality” below.)  Although there have been indications that economic conditions are improving, the pace of recovery has been modest and uneven and the ongoing stress in the economy has been the most significant challenge impacting our operating results through this economic cycle.  As a result, like most financial institutions, our future operating results and financial performance will be significantly affected by the course of recovery from the recessionary downturn.  However, improving our risk profile and aggressively managing problem assets has been a primary focus in this difficult environment which has produced significant progress in recent periods and which we believe will lead to further improved operating results in the future.

Aside from the level of loan loss provision, our operating results depend primarily on our ability to generate revenues from net interest income and fee based services.  These revenues have been consistently increasing in recent periods as our expanded branch network has been maturing and we have been successfully executing on our strategies to strengthen the franchise and deliver sustainable profitability.  Our net interest income is the difference between interest income on interest-earning assets, consisting of loans and investment securities, and interest expense
 
 
 
 
4

 
 
on interest-bearing liabilities, composed primarily of customer deposits and borrowings.  Net interest income is primarily a function of our interest rate spread, which is the difference between the yield earned on interest-earning assets and the rate paid on interest-bearing liabilities, as well as a function of the average balances of interest-earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities.  As more fully explained below, our net interest income before provision for loan losses increased by $6.8 million, or 4.3%, for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $164.6 million compared to $157.8 million for the prior year, primarily as a result of an expansion of our net interest spread and net interest margin due to a lower cost of funds and reduced drag from non-performing assets.  These trends of lower funding costs driven by rapidly declining interest expense on deposits and fewer non-performing assets, and the resulting increase in the net interest margin, represent important improvements in our core operating fundamentals, which we believe should provide a solid base to build upon as the economy recovers.

Our net income also is affected by the level of our other operating income, including deposit fees and service charges, loan origination and servicing fees, and gains and losses on the sale of loans and securities, as well as our non-interest operating expenses and income tax provisions.  In addition, our net income is affected by the net change in the value of certain financial instruments carried at fair value and in certain periods by other-than-temporary-impairment (OTTI) charges or recoveries.  (See Notes 4 and 22 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)  Our other operating income was $34.0 miliion for the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to $29.1 millon for the prior year.  For the year ended December 31, 2011, we recorded a combined net gain of $2.4 million in fair value and OTTI adjustments compared to a net loss of $2.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.  Other operating income, excluding fair value and OTTI adjustments, was $31.6 million in both years.  Other operating expenses were $158.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, a 2% decrease from $160.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2010, largely as a result of decreased costs related to real estate owned and FDIC deposit insurance.  While lower in 2011 than in 2010, both years’ expenses reflect significant costs associated with problem loan collection activities including professional services and valuation charges related to real estate owned, which we believe should decline in future periods as a result of the continuing reduction in nonperforming assets.  Further, in 2010 we recorded a full valuation allowance for our net deferred tax assets, which resulted in an $18.0 million provision for income taxes for the year ended December 31, 2010, despite a pre-tax loss of $43.9 million.  By contrast, for the year ended December 31, 2011, we had pre-tax income of $5.5 million, with the resulting provision for income taxes offset by an adjustment to the deferred tax asset valuation allowance.

See Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for more detailed information about our financial performance and critical accounting policies.

Recent Developments and Significant Events

Regulatory Actions:  On March 23, 2010, Banner Bank entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (Bank MOU) with the FDIC and Washington DFI.  The Company also entered into a similar MOU with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (Federal Reserve Bank) on March 29, 2010 (FRB MOU).  Under the Bank MOU, Banner Bank is required, among other things, to develop and implement plans to reduce commercial real estate concentrations; to improve asset quality and reduce classified assets; to improve profitability; and to increase Tier 1 leverage capital to equal or exceed 10% of average assets.  In addition, Banner Bank is not permitted to pay cash dividends to Banner Corporation without prior approval from the FDIC and DFI and the Company and Banner Bank must obtain prior regulatory approval before adding any new director or senior executive officer or changing the responsibilities of any current senior executive officer.  Further, the Company may not pay any dividends on common or preferred stock, pay interest or principal on the balance of its junior subordinated debentures or repurchase its common stock without the prior written non-objection of the Federal Reserve Bank.  For additional information, see “Item 1A, Risk Factors – Risks Associated with Our Business – We are required to comply with the terms of memoranda of understanding that we have entered into with the FDIC and DFI and the Federal Reserve Bank and lack of compliance could result in additional regulatory actions.”

Income Tax Reporting and Accounting:

Amended Federal Income Tax Returns:  On October 25, 2011, the Company filed amended federal income tax returns for tax years 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.  The amended tax returns, which are expected to be reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), would significantly affect the timing for recognition of credit losses within previously filed income tax returns and, if approved, would result in the refund of up to $13.6 million of previously paid taxes from the utilization of net operating loss carryback claims into prior tax years.  The outcome of the anticipated IRS review is inherently uncertain and since there can be no assurance of approval of some or all of the tax carryback claims, no asset has been recognized to reflect the possible results of these amendments as of December 31, 2011, because of this uncertainty.  Accordingly, we do not anticipate recognizing any tax benefit until the results of the IRS review have been determined.

Deferred Tax Asset Valuation Allowance:  The Company and the Banks file consolidated U.S. federal income tax returns, as well as state income tax returns in Oregon and Idaho.  Income taxes are accounted for using the asset and liability method.  Under this method a deferred tax asset or liability is determined based on the enacted tax rates which are expected to be in effect when the differences between the financial statement carrying amounts and tax basis of existing assets and liabilities are expected to be reported in the Company’s income tax returns.  The effect on deferred taxes of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.  Under U.S. generally acceptable accounting principles (GAAP), a valuation allowance is required to be recognized if it is “more likely than not” that all or a portion of our deferred tax assets will not be realized.  While realization of the deferred tax asset is ultimately dependent on a return to sustained profitability, which management believes is more likely than not, the guidance reflected in the accounting standard is significantly influenced by consideration of recent historical operating results.  During the third quarter of 2010, we evaluated our net deferred tax asset and determined it was prudent to establish a valuation allowance against the entire asset.  This action caused our income tax expense to be $24.0 million for that period.  As a result, we recorded $18.0 million income tax expense for the year ended December 31, 2010.  No tax benefit or expense was recognized during 2011.  See Note 13 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for more information.



 
5

 
Stockholder Equity Transactions:

Reverse stock split: On May 26, 2011, Banner Corporation filed with the Secretary of State of the State of Washington Articles of Amendment to its Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation, which affected a 1-for-7 reverse stock split.  The amendment to the Company's Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation was effective June 1, 2011.

As a result of the reverse stock split, every seven shares of the Company's common stock issued and outstanding immediately prior to the effective date automatically consolidated into one share of common stock.  No fractional shares of common stock were issued by the Company in connection with the reverse stock split.  Approximately $50,000 in cash was paid for fractional shares based on the closing price of the common stock on May 31, 2011.  All prior shares outstanding and per share information have been retroactively adjusted for the reverse stock split.

Secondary Offering of Common Stock:  On June 30, 2010, the Company announced the initial closing of its offering of 75,000,000 shares (pre-reverse split) of its common stock and the sale of an additional 3,500,000 shares pursuant to the partial exercise of the underwriters’ over-allotment option, at a price to the public of $2.00 per share.  On July 2, 2010, the Company further announced the completion of this offering as the underwriters exercised their over-allotment option for an additional 7,139,000 shares, at a price to the public of $2.00 per share.  Together with the 78,500,000 shares the Company issued on June 30, 2010 (including 3,500,000 shares issued pursuant to the underwriters’ initial exercise of their over-allotment option), the Company issued a total of 85,639,000 shares in the offering, resulting in net proceeds, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses, of approximately $161.6 million.

Participation in the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program:  On November 21, 2008, Banner received $124 million from the U.S. Treasury Department as part of the Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program.  Banner issued $124 million in senior preferred stock, with a related warrant to purchase up to $18.6 million in common stock, to the U.S. Treasury.  The warrant provides the Treasury the option to purchase up to 243,998 shares (post reverse-split) of Banner Corporation common stock at a price of $76.23 per share (post reverse-split) at any time during the next ten years.  The preferred stock pays a 5% dividend for the first five years, after which the rate will increase to 9% if the preferred shares are not redeemed by the Company.  The terms and conditions of the transaction and the preferred stock conform to those provided by the U.S. Treasury.  A summary of the Capital Purchase Program can be found on the Treasury’s web site at www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/pages/default.aspx.  The additional capital enhances the Company’s capacity to support the communities it serves through expanded lending activities and economic development.  This capital also adds flexibility in considering strategic opportunities that may be available to it.

Lending Activities

General: All of our lending activities are conducted through Banner Bank, its subsidiary, Community Financial Corporation, and Islanders Bank.  We offer a wide range of loan products to meet the demands of our customers and our loan portfolio is very diversified by product type, borrower and geographic location within our market area.  We originate loans for our own loan portfolio and for sale in the secondary market.  Management’s strategy has been to maintain a well diversified portfolio with a significant percentage of assets in the loan portfolio having more frequent interest rate repricing terms or shorter maturities than traditional long-term fixed-rate mortgage loans.  As part of this effort, we have developed a variety of floating or adjustable interest rate products that correlate more closely with our cost of funds, particularly loans for commercial business and real estate, agricultural business, and construction and development purposes.  However, in response to customer demand, we continue to originate fixed-rate loans, including fixed interest rate mortgage loans with terms of up to 30 years.  The relative amount of fixed-rate loans and adjustable-rate loans that can be originated at any time is largely determined by the demand for each in a competitive environment.

Historically, our lending activities have been primarily directed toward the origination of real estate and commercial loans.  Until recent periods, real estate lending activities were significantly focused on residential construction and land development loans and first mortgages on owner-occupied, one- to four-family residential properties; however, over the past four years our origination of construction and land development loans has declined substantially and the proportion of the portfolio invested in these types of loans has materially declined.  Our residential mortgage loan originations also decreased during this four-year cycle, although less significantly than the decline in construction and land development lending, as exceptionally low interest rates supported demand for loans to refinance existing debt as well as loans to finance home purchases.  Despite modest demand, our residential mortgage loan portfolio has increased in amount and as a proportion of our total loan portfolio during this cycle, although residential mortgage loan balances have declined for each of the past two years.  Our real estate lending activities have also included the origination of multifamily and commercial real estate loans.  Our commercial business lending has been directed toward meeting the credit and related deposit needs of various small- to medium-sized business and agri-business borrowers operating in our primary market areas.  Reflecting the weak economy, in recent periods demand for these types of commercial business loans has been modest and total outstanding balances have declined from peak balances at June 30, 2008; however, originations of commercial business loans were substantially higher in 2011 than in the previous three years.  Our consumer loan activity is primarily directed at meeting demand from our existing deposit customers and, while we have increased our emphasis on consumer lending in recent years, demand for consumer loans also has been modest during this period of economic weakness as many consumers have been focused on reducing their personal debt.  While continuing our commitment to residential lending, including our mortgage banking activities, we expect commercial lending (including owner-occupied commercial real estate, commercial business and agricultural loans) and consumer lending to become increasingly more important activities for us.  By contrast, we anticipate residential construction and related land development lending, which at December 31, 2011 represented 7% of the loan portfolio, compared to 9% a year earlier and more than 30% at its peak during the second quarter of 2007, will continue to be restrained by market conditions for the foreseeable future, as well as by our efforts to manage our concentration in this type of lending.

At December 31, 2011, our net loan portfolio totaled $3.2 billion.  For additional information concerning our loan portfolio, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010—Loans and Lending.”  See also Tables 7 and 8 contained therein, which sets forth the composition and geographic concentration of our loan portfolio, and Tables 9 and 10, which contain information regarding the loans maturing in our portfolio.
 
 
 
6

 
One- to Four-Family Residential Real Estate Lending:  At both Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, we originate loans secured by first mortgages on one- to four-family residences in the Northwest communities where we have offices.  While we offer a wide range of products, we have not engaged in any sub-prime lending programs, which we define as loans to borrowers with poor credit histories or undocumented repayment capabilities and with excessive reliance on the collateral as the source of repayment.  However, we have experienced a modest increase in delinquencies on our residential loans in response to the weakened housing market conditions.  At December 31, 2011, $643 million, or 20% of our loan portfolio, consisted of permanent loans on one- to four-family residences.

We offer fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) at rates and terms competitive with market conditions, primarily with the intent of selling these loans into the secondary market.  Fixed-rate loans generally are offered on a fully amortizing basis for terms ranging from 15 to 30 years at interest rates and fees that reflect current secondary market pricing.  Most ARM products offered adjust annually after an initial period ranging from one to five years, subject to a limitation on the annual change of 1.0% to 2.0% and a lifetime limitation of 5.0% to 6.0%.  For a small portion of the portfolio, where the initial period exceeds one year, the first rate change may exceed the annual limitation on subsequent rate changes.  Our ARM products most frequently adjust based upon the average yield on U.S. Treasury securities adjusted to a constant maturity of one year or certain LIBOR indices plus a margin or spread above the index.  ARM loans held in our portfolio may allow for interest-only payments for an initial period up to five years but do not provide for negative amortization of principal and carry no prepayment restrictions.  The retention of ARM loans in our loan portfolio can help reduce our exposure to changes in interest rates.  However, borrower demand for ARM loans versus fixed-rate mortgage loans is a function of the level of interest rates, the expectations of changes in the level of interest rates and the difference between the initial interest rates and fees charged for each type of loan.  In recent years, borrower demand for ARM loans has been limited and we have chosen not to aggressively pursue ARM loans by offering minimally profitable, deeply discounted teaser rates or option-payment ARM products.  As a result, ARM loans have represented only a small portion of our loans originated during this period and of our portfolio.

Our residential loans are generally underwritten and documented in accordance with the guidelines established by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac or FHLMC) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae or FNMA).  Government insured loans are underwritten and documented in accordance with the guidelines established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans Administration (VA).  In the loan approval process, we assess the borrower’s ability to repay the loan, the adequacy of the proposed security, the employment stability of the borrower and the creditworthiness of the borrower.  For ARM loans, our standard practice provides for underwriting based upon fully indexed interest rates and payments.  Generally, we will lend up to 95% of the lesser of the appraised value or purchase price of the property on conventional loans, although higher loan-to-value ratios are available on certain government insured programs.  We require private mortgage insurance on conventional residential loans with a loan-to-value ratio at origination exceeding 80%.  For the past three years, particularly in 2009 and 2010, a number of exceptions to these general underwriting guidelines were granted in connection with the sale or refinance of properties, particularly new construction, for which we were already providing financing.  These exceptions most commonly relate to loan-to-value and mortgage insurance requirements and not to credit underwriting or loan documentation standards.  Such exceptions, while less frequent in recent periods, will likely continue in the near term to facilitate troubled loan resolution in the current distressed housing market, and may result in loans having performance characteristics different from the rest of our one-to-four-family loan portfolio.

Through our mortgage banking activities, we sell residential loans on either a servicing-retained or servicing-released basis.  During the past three years, we have sold a significant portion of our conventional residential mortgage originations and nearly all of our government insured loans in the secondary market.

Construction and Land Lending:  Historically, we have invested a significant portion of our loan portfolio in residential construction and land loans to professional home builders and developers; however, the amount of this investment has been substantially reduced in recent years.  To a lesser extent, we also originate construction loans for commercial and multifamily real estate.  In years prior to 2008, residential construction and land development lending was an area of major emphasis at Banner Bank and the primary focus of its subsidiary, CFC.  Our largest concentrations of construction and land development loans are in the greater Puget Sound region of Washington State and the Portland, Oregon market area.  We also have construction and land loans for properties to a much smaller extent in the greater Boise, Idaho area and certain eastern Washington and eastern Oregon markets.  At December 31, 2011, construction and land loans totaled $319 million, or 10% of total loans of the Company, consisting of $144 million of one- to four-family construction loans, $98 million of residential land or land development loans, $62 million of commercial and multifamily real estate construction loans and $15 million of commercial land or land development loans.

Construction and land lending affords us the opportunity to achieve higher interest rates and fees with shorter terms to maturity than are usually available on other types of lending.  Construction and land lending, however, involves a higher degree of risk than other lending opportunities because of the inherent difficulty in estimating both a property’s value at completion of the project and the estimated cost of the project.  If the estimate of construction cost proves to be inaccurate, we may be required to advance funds beyond the amount originally committed to permit completion of the project.  If the estimate of value upon completion proves to be inaccurate, we may be confronted at, or prior to, the maturity of the loan with a project the value of which is insufficient to assure full repayment.  Disagreements between borrowers and builders and the failure of builders to pay subcontractors may also jeopardize projects.  Loans to builders to construct homes for which no purchaser has been identified carry additional risk because the payoff for the loan is dependent on the builder’s ability to sell the property before the construction loan is due.  We attempt to address these risks by adhering to strict underwriting policies, disbursement procedures and monitoring practices.

Construction loans made by us include those with a sales contract or permanent loan in place for the finished homes and those for which purchasers for the finished homes may be identified either during or following the construction period.  We actively monitor the number of unsold homes in our construction loan portfolio and local housing markets to attempt to maintain an appropriate balance between home sales and new loan originations.  The maximum number of speculative loans (loans that are not presold) approved for each builder is based on a combination of factors, including the financial capacity of the builder, the market demand for the finished product and the ratio of sold to unsold inventory the builder maintains.  We have attempted to diversify the risk associated with speculative construction lending by doing business with a large number of small and mid-sized builders spread over a relatively large geographic region with numerous sub-markets within our three-state service area.
 
 
 
7

 
Loans for the construction of one- to four-family residences are generally made for a term of twelve to eighteen months.  Our loan policies include maximum loan-to-value ratios of up to 80% for speculative loans.  Individual speculative loan requests are supported by an independent appraisal of the property, a set of plans, a cost breakdown and a completed specifications form.  Underwriting is focused on the borrowers’ financial strength, credit history and demonstrated ability to produce a quality product and effectively market and manage their operations.  All speculative construction loans must be approved by senior loan officers.

Historically, we have also made land loans to developers, builders and individuals to finance the acquisition and/or development of improved lots or unimproved land, although over the past four years we generally have not originated this type of loan.  In making land loans, we follow underwriting policies and disbursement and monitoring procedures similar to those for construction loans.  The initial term on land loans is typically one to three years with interest only payments, payable monthly, and provisions for principal reduction as lots are sold and released from the lien of the mortgage.

We regularly monitor the construction and land loan portfolios and the economic conditions and housing inventory in each of our markets and decrease this type of lending if we perceive unfavorable market conditions such as the existing economic environment.  Housing markets in most areas of the Pacific Northwest significantly deteriorated beginning in 2008 and our origination of new construction loans declined sharply as a result.  We believe that the underwriting policies and internal monitoring systems we have in place have helped to mitigate some of the risks inherent in construction and land lending; however, weak housing market conditions nonetheless resulted in material delinquencies and charge-offs in our construction and land loan portfolios in recent years.  While construction and land loans, including residential, commercial and multifamily, have been meaningfully reduced, they still represent 10% of our portfolio and are responsible for approximately 37% of our non-performing loans.  Although well diversified with respect to sub-markets, price ranges and borrowers, our construction and land loans are significantly concentrated in the greater Puget Sound region of Washington State and the Portland, Oregon market area.  Reducing the amount of non-performing construction and land development loans and related real estate acquired through foreclosure has been the most critical issue that we have needed to resolve to return to acceptable levels of profitability and we have made substantial progress during the past two years in this regard.  The most significant risk in this portfolio relates to the land development loans as demand for building lots is currently weak.  (See “Asset Quality” below and Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Asset Quality.”)

Commercial and Multifamily Real Estate Lending:  We originate loans secured by multifamily and commercial real estate including, as noted above, loans for construction of multifamily and commercial real estate projects.  Commercial real estate loans are made for both owner-occupied and investor properties.  At December 31, 2011, our loan portfolio included $140 million in multifamily and $1.091 billion in commercial real estate loans, including $470 million in owner-occupied commercial real estate loans and $621 million in non-owner-occupied commercial real estate loans, which in aggregate comprised 33% of our total loans.  Multifamily and commercial real estate lending affords us an opportunity to receive interest at rates higher than those generally available from one- to four-family residential lending.  However, loans secured by multifamily and commercial properties are generally greater in amount, more difficult to evaluate and monitor and, therefore, potentially riskier than one- to four-family residential mortgage loans.  Because payments on loans secured by multifamily and commercial properties are often dependent on the successful operation and management of the properties, repayment of these loans may be affected by adverse conditions in the real estate market or the economy.  In originating multifamily and commercial real estate loans, we consider the location, marketability and overall attractiveness of the properties.  Our underwriting guidelines for multifamily and commercial real estate loans require an appraisal from a qualified independent appraiser and an economic analysis of each property with regard to the annual revenue and expenses, debt service coverage and fair value to determine the maximum loan amount.  In the approval process we assess the borrowers’ willingness and ability to manage the property and repay the loan and the adequacy of the collateral in relation to the loan amount.

Multifamily and commercial real estate loans originated by us are both fixed- and adjustable-rate loans generally with intermediate terms of five to ten years.  Most multifamily and commercial real estate loans originated in the past five years are linked to various Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) advance rates, certain prime rates or other market rate indices.  Rates on these adjustable-rate loans generally adjust with a frequency of one to five years after an initial fixed-rate period ranging from one to ten years.  Our commercial real estate portfolio consists of loans on a variety of property types with no large concentrations by property type, location or borrower.  At December 31, 2011, the average size of our commercial real estate loans was $644,000 and the largest commercial real estate loan in our portfolio was approximately $16 million.

Commercial Business Lending:  We are active in small- to medium-sized business lending and are engaged to a lesser extent in agricultural lending primarily by providing crop production loans.  Our officers devote a great deal of effort to developing customer relationships and the ability to serve these types of borrowers.  While also strengthening our commitment to small business lending, in recent years we have added experienced officers and staff focused on corporate lending opportunities for borrowers with credit needs generally in a $3 million to $15 million range.  In addition to providing earning assets, this type of lending has helped us increase our deposit base.  Expanding commercial lending and related commercial banking services is currently an area of significant focus, including recent reorganization and additions to staffing in the areas of credit administration, Small Business Administration (SBA) lending, business development, and loan and deposit operations.

Commercial business loans may entail greater risk than other types of loans.  Commercial business loans may be unsecured or secured by special purpose or rapidly depreciating assets, such as equipment, inventory and receivables, which may not provide an adequate source of repayment on defaulted loans.  In addition, commercial business loans are dependent on the borrower’s continuing financial strength and management ability, as well as market conditions for various products, services and commodities.  For these reasons, commercial business loans generally provide higher yields or related revenue opportunities than many other types of loans but also require more administrative and management attention.  Loan terms, including the fixed or adjustable interest rate, the loan maturity and the collateral considerations, vary significantly and are negotiated on an individual loan basis.

We underwrite our commercial business loans on the basis of the borrower’s cash flow and ability to service the debt from earnings rather than on the basis of the underlying collateral value.  We seek to structure these loans so that they have more than one source of repayment.  The borrower is required to provide us with sufficient information to allow us to make a prudent lending determination.  In most instances, this
 
 
 
8

 
information consists of at least three years of financial statements, tax returns, a statement of projected cash flows, current financial information on any guarantor and information about the collateral.  Loans to closely held businesses typically require personal guarantees by the principals.  Our commercial loan portfolio is geographically dispersed across the market areas serviced by our branch network and there are no significant concentrations by industry or products.

Our commercial business loans may be structured as term loans or as lines of credit.  Commercial business term loans are generally made to finance the purchase of fixed assets and have maturities of five years or less.  Commercial business lines of credit are typically made for the purpose of providing working capital and are usually approved with a term of one year.  Adjustable- or floating-rate loans are primarily tied to various prime rate or LIBOR indices.  At December 31, 2011, commercial business loans totaled $601 million, or 18% of our total loans.

Agricultural Lending:  Agriculture is a major industry in many parts of our service areas.  While agricultural loans are not a large part of our portfolio, we intend to continue to make agricultural loans to borrowers with a strong capital base, sufficient management depth, proven ability to operate through agricultural cycles, reliable cash flows and adequate financial reporting.  Payments on agricultural loans depend, to a large degree, on the results of operations of the related farm entity.  The repayment is also subject to other economic and weather conditions as well as market prices for agricultural products, which can be highly volatile.  At December 31, 2011, agricultural business loans, including collateral secured loans to purchase farm land and equipment, totaled $218 million, or 7% of our loan portfolio.

Agricultural operating loans generally are made as a percentage of the borrower’s anticipated income to support budgeted operating expenses.  These loans are secured by a blanket lien on all crops, livestock, equipment, accounts and products and proceeds thereof.  In the case of crops, consideration is given to projected yields and prices from each commodity.  The interest rate is normally floating based on the prime rate or a LIBOR index plus a negotiated margin.  Because these loans are made to finance a farm or ranch’s annual operations, they are usually written on a one-year review and renewable basis.  The renewal is dependent upon the prior year’s performance and the forthcoming year’s projections as well as the overall financial strength of the borrower.  We carefully monitor these loans and related variance reports on income and expenses compared to budget estimates.  To meet the seasonal operating needs of a farm, borrowers may qualify for single payment notes, revolving lines of credit and/or non-revolving lines of credit.

In underwriting agricultural operating loans, we consider the cash flow of the borrower based upon the expected operating results as well as the value of collateral used to secure the loans.  Collateral generally consists of cash crops produced by the farm, such as milk, grains, fruit, grass seed, peas, sugar beets, mint, onions, potatoes, corn and alfalfa or livestock.  In addition to considering cash flow and obtaining a blanket security interest in the farm’s cash crop, we may also collateralize an operating loan with the farm’s operating equipment, breeding stock, real estate and federal agricultural program payments to the borrower.

We also originate loans to finance the purchase of farm equipment.  Loans to purchase farm equipment are made for terms of up to seven years.  On occasion, we also originate agricultural real estate loans secured primarily by first liens on farmland and improvements thereon located in our market areas, although generally only to service the needs of our existing customers.  Loans are written in amounts ranging from 50% to 75% of the tax assessed or appraised value of the property for terms of five to 20 years.  These loans generally have interest rates that adjust at least every five years based upon a U.S. Treasury index or FHLB advance rate plus a negotiated margin.  Fixed-rate loans are granted on terms usually not to exceed five years.  In originating agricultural real estate loans, we consider the debt service coverage of the borrower’s cash flow, the appraised value of the underlying property, the experience and knowledge of the borrower, and the borrower’s past performance with us and/or the market area.  These loans normally are not made to start-up businesses and are reserved for existing customers with substantial equity and a proven history.

Among the more common risks to agricultural lending can be weather conditions and disease.  These risks may be mitigated through multi-peril crop insurance.  Commodity prices also present a risk, which may be reduced by the use of set price contracts.  Normally, required beginning and projected operating margins provide for reasonable reserves to offset unexpected yield and price deficiencies.  In addition to these risks, we also consider management succession, life insurance and business continuation plans when evaluating agricultural loans.

Consumer and Other Lending:  We originate a variety of consumer loans, including home equity lines of credit, automobile loans and loans secured by deposit accounts.  While consumer lending has traditionally been a small part of our business, with loans made primarily to accommodate our existing customer base, it has received consistent emphasis in recent years.  Part of this emphasis has been the reintroduction of a Banner Bank-funded credit card program which we began marketing in the fourth quarter of 2005.  Similar to other consumer loan programs, we focus this credit card program on our existing customer base to add to the depth of our customer relationships.  Our underwriting of consumer loans is focused on the borrower’s credit history and ability to repay the debt as evidenced by documented sources of income.  At December 31, 2011, we had $284 million, or 9% of our loans receivable, in consumer related loans.

Similar to commercial business loans, consumer loans often entail greater risk than residential mortgage loans, particularly in the case of consumer loans which are unsecured or secured by rapidly depreciating assets such as automobiles.  In such cases, any repossessed collateral for a defaulted consumer loan may not provide an adequate source of repayment of the outstanding loan balance as a result of the greater likelihood of damage, loss or depreciation.  The remaining deficiency often does not warrant further substantial collection efforts against the borrower.  In addition, consumer loan collections are dependent on the borrower’s continuing financial stability, and thus are more likely to be adversely affected by job loss, divorce, illness or personal bankruptcy.  Furthermore, the application of various federal and state laws, including federal and state bankruptcy and insolvency laws, may limit the amount which can be recovered on such loans.  These loans may also give rise to claims and defenses by a consumer loan borrower against an assignee of such loans such as us, and a borrower may be able to assert against the assignee claims and defenses that it has against the seller of the underlying collateral.


 
9

 

Loan Solicitation and Processing:  We originate real estate loans in our market areas by direct solicitation of real estate brokers, builders, depositors, walk-in customers and visitors to our Internet website.  Loan applications are taken by our loan officers or through our Internet website and are processed in branch or regional locations.  Most underwriting and loan administration functions for our real estate loans are performed by loan personnel at central locations.  We do not make loans originated by independent third-party loan brokers or any similar wholesale loan origination channels.

Our commercial loan officers solicit commercial and agricultural business loans through call programs focused on local businesses and farmers.  While commercial loan officers are delegated reasonable commitment authority based upon their qualifications, credit decisions on significant commercial and agricultural loans are made by senior loan officers or in certain instances by the Board of Directors of Banner Bank and Islanders Bank.

We originate consumer loans through various marketing efforts directed primarily toward our existing deposit and loan customers.  Consumer loan applications are primarily underwritten and documented by centralized administrative personnel.

Loan Originations, Sales and Purchases

While we originate a variety of loans, our ability to originate each type of loan is dependent upon the relative customer demand and competition in each market we serve.  For the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, we originated loans, net of repayments and charge-offs, of $270 million, $114 million, and $582 million, respectively.  The increase in net originations for 2011 reflects an increase in production of new commercial business and agricultural business loans and commercial real estate loans, as well as a reduction in charge-offs.  The decreased level of originations, net of repayments and charge-offs, during 2010 was significantly impacted by reduced demand from creditworthy borrowers due to weak economic conditions, a substantial amount of loan repayments, and significant charge-offs.

We sell many of our newly originated one- to four-family residential mortgage loans to secondary market purchasers as part of our interest rate risk management strategy.  Proceeds from sales of loans for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, totaled $282 million, $351 million, and $563 million, respectively.  Sales of loans generally are beneficial to us because these sales may generate income at the time of sale, provide funds for additional lending and other investments, increase liquidity or reduce interest rate risk.  We sell loans on both a servicing-retained and a servicing-released basis.  All loans are sold without recourse.  The decision to hold or sell loans is based on asset liability management goals, strategies and policies and on market conditions.  See “Loan Servicing.”  At December 31, 2011, we had $3 million in loans held for sale.

We periodically purchase whole loans and loan participation interests primarily during periods of reduced loan demand in our primary market area and at times to support our Community Reinvestment Act lending activities.  Any such purchases are made generally consistent with our underwriting standards; however, the loans may be located outside of our normal lending area.  During the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, we purchased $5 million and $341,000, respectively, of loans and loan participation interests.

Loan Servicing

We receive fees from a variety of institutional owners in return for performing the traditional services of collecting individual payments and managing portfolios of sold loans.  At December 31, 2011, we were servicing $773 million of loans for others.  Loan servicing includes processing payments, accounting for loan funds and collecting and paying real estate taxes, hazard insurance and other loan-related items such as private mortgage insurance.  In addition to earning fee income, we retain certain amounts in escrow for the benefit of the lender for which we incur no interest expense but are able to invest the funds into earning assets.  At December 31, 2011, we held $3.4 million in escrow for our portfolio of loans serviced for others.  The loan servicing portfolio at December 31, 2011 was composed of $530 million of Freddie Mac residential mortgage loans, $108 million of Fannie Mae residential mortgage loans and $135 million of both residential and non-residential mortgage loans serviced for a variety of private investors.  The portfolio included loans secured by property located primarily in the states of Washington and Oregon.  For the year ended December 31, 2011, we recognized $1.1 million of loan servicing fees in our results of operations, which was net of $1.8 million of servicing rights amortization.

Mortgage Servicing Rights:  We record mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) with respect to loans we originate and sell in the secondary market on a servicing-retained basis.  The value of MSRs is capitalized and amortized in proportion to, and over the period of, the estimated future net servicing income.  For the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, we capitalized $1.9 million, $1.7 million, and $5.0 million, respectively, of MSRs relating to loans sold with servicing retained.  No MSRs were purchased in those periods.  Amortization of MSRs for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, was $1.8 million, $2.0 million, and $2.1 million, respectively.  Management periodically evaluates the estimates and assumptions used to determine the carrying values of MSRs and the amortization of MSRs.  These carrying values are adjusted when the valuation indicates the carrying value is impaired.  MSRs generally are adversely affected by higher levels of current or anticipated prepayments resulting from decreasing interest rates.  At December 31, 2011, our MSRs were carried at a value of $5.6 million, net of amortization.

Asset Quality

Classified Assets: State and federal regulations require that the Banks review and classify their problem assets on a regular basis.  In addition, in connection with examinations of insured institutions, state and federal examiners have authority to identify problem assets and, if appropriate, require them to be classified.  Historically, we have not had any meaningful differences of opinion with the examiners with respect to asset classification.  Banner Bank’s Credit Policy Division reviews detailed information with respect to the composition and performance of the loan portfolios, including information on risk concentrations, delinquencies and classified assets for both Banner Bank and Islanders Bank.  The Credit Policy Division approves all recommendations for new classified loans or, in the case of smaller-balance homogeneous loans including residential real estate and consumer loans, it has approved policies governing such classifications, or changes in classifications, and develops and monitors action plans to resolve the problems associated with the assets.  The Credit Policy Division also approves recommendations for
 
 
 
 
 
10

 
 
establishing the appropriate level of the allowance for loan losses.  Significant problem loans are transferred to Banner Bank’s Special Assets Department for resolution or collection activities.  The Banks’ and Banner Corporation’s Boards of Directors are given a detailed report on classified assets and asset quality at least quarterly.  For additional information regarding asset quality and non-performing loans, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010—Asset Quality,” and Tables 15, 16 and 17 contained therein.

Allowance for Loan Losses:   In originating loans, we recognize that losses will be experienced and that the risk of loss will vary with, among other things, the type of loan being made, the creditworthiness of the borrower over the term of the loan, general economic conditions and, in the case of a secured loan, the quality of the security for the loan.  As a result, we maintain an allowance for loan losses consistent with GAAP guidelines.  We increase our allowance for loan losses by charging provisions for possible loan losses against our income.  The allowance for losses on loans is maintained at a level which, in management’s judgment, is sufficient to provide for probable losses based on evaluating known and inherent risks in the loan portfolio and upon continuing analysis of the factors underlying the quality of the loan portfolio.  At December 31, 2011, we had an allowance for loan losses of $83 million, which represented 2.52% of net loans and 110% of non-performing loans compared to 2.86% and 64%, respectively, at December 31, 2010.  For additional information concerning our allowance for loan losses, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Results of Operations for the Years Ended December 31, 2011 and 2010—Provision and Allowance for Loan Losses,” and Tables 21 and 22 contained therein.

Real Estate Owned:  Real estate owned (REO) is property acquired by foreclosure or receiving a deed in lieu of foreclosure, and is recorded at the lower of the estimated fair value of the property, less expected selling costs, or the carrying value of the defaulted loan.  Development and improvement costs relating to the property are capitalized.  The carrying value of the property is periodically evaluated by management and, if necessary, allowances are established to reduce the carrying value to net realizable value.  Gains or losses at the time the property is sold are charged or credited to operations in the period in which they are realized.  The amounts the Banks will ultimately recover from real estate may differ substantially from the carrying value of the assets because of market factors beyond the Banks’ control or because of changes in the Banks’ strategies for recovering the investment.  If the book value of the REO is determined to be in excess of the fair market value, a valuation allowance is recognized against earnings.  At December 31, 2011, we had REO of $43 million, compared to $101 million at December 31, 2010.  Valuation allowances recognized during both 2011 and 2010 totaled $15.1 million, compared with $1.6 million during 2009.  For additional information on REO, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010—Asset Quality” and Table 18 contained therein and Note 7 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Investment Activities

Under Washington state law, banks are permitted to invest in various types of marketable securities.  Authorized securities include but are not limited to U.S. Treasury obligations, securities of various federal agencies (including government-sponsored enterprises), mortgage-backed securities, certain certificates of deposit of insured banks and savings institutions, bankers’ acceptances, repurchase agreements, federal funds, commercial paper, corporate debt and equity securities and obligations of states and their political subdivisions.  Our investment policies are designed to provide and maintain adequate liquidity and to generate favorable rates of return without incurring undue interest rate or credit risk.  Our policies generally limit investments to U.S. Government and agency (including government-sponsored entities) securities, municipal bonds, certificates of deposit, corporate debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities.  Investment in mortgage-backed securities may include those issued or guaranteed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae or GNMA) and privately-issued mortgage-backed securities that have an AA credit rating or higher at the time of purchase, as well as collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs).  A high credit rating indicates only that the rating agency believes there is a low risk of loss or default.  To the best of our knowledge, we do not have any investments in mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations or structured investment vehicles that have a material exposure to sub-prime mortgages.  However, we do have investments in single-issuer and collateralized debt obligations secured by pooled trust preferred securities that have been materially adversely impacted by concerns related to the banking and insurance industries as well as payment deferrals and defaults by certain issuers.  Further, all of our investment securities, including those that have high credit ratings, are subject to market risk in so far as a change in market rates of interest or other conditions may cause a change in an investment’s earnings performance and/or market value.

At December 31, 2011, our consolidated investment portfolio totaled $622 million and consisted principally of U.S. Government agency obligations, mortgage-backed securities, municipal bonds and corporate debt obligations.  From time to time, investment levels may be increased or decreased depending upon yields available on investment alternatives and management’s projections as to the demand for funds to be used in loan originations, deposits and other activities.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, holdings of mortgage-backed securities increased $43 million to $130 million, while U.S. Treasury and agency obligations increased $202 million to $342 million, corporate securities including equities decreased $16 million to $43 million, and municipal bonds increased $25 million to $108 million.

For detailed information on our investment securities, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010—Investments,” and Tables 1 to 6 contained therein.

Off-Balance-Sheet Derivatives:  Derivatives include “off-balance-sheet” financial products whose value is dependent on the value of an underlying financial asset, such as a stock, bond, foreign currency, or a reference rate or index.  Such derivatives include “forwards,” “futures,” “options” or “swaps.”  Through our acquisition of F&M Bank in 2007, we became a party to approximately $23 million ($19 million as of December 31, 2011) in notional amounts of interest rate swaps.  These swaps serve as hedges to an equal amount of fixed-rate loans which include market value prepayment penalties that mirror the provision of the specifically matched interest rate swaps.  In addition, in 2011 we began actively marketing interest rate swaps to certain loan customers in connection with longer-term floating rate loans, allowing them to effectively fix their loan interest rates.  These customer swaps are matched with third party swaps with qualified broker/dealers or banks to offset the risk.  As of December 31, 2011, we had $49 million in notional amounts of these customer interest rate swaps outstanding, with an equal amount of offsetting third party swaps also in place.  The fair value adjustments for these swaps and, where appropriate, the related loans are reflected in other assets or other liabilities as appropriate, and in the carrying value of the hedged loans if appropriate.  Also, as a part of
 
 
 
 
11

 
 
 
mortgage banking activities, we issue “rate lock” commitments to borrowers and obtain offsetting “best efforts” delivery commitments from purchasers of loans.  While not providing any trading or net settlement mechanisms, these off-balance-sheet commitments do have many of the prescribed characteristics of derivatives and as a result are accounted for as such.  Accordingly, on December 31, 2011, we recorded an asset of $617,000 and a liability of $617,000, representing the estimated market value of those commitments.  On December 31, 2011, we had no other investment related off-balance-sheet derivatives.

Deposit Activities and Other Sources of Funds

General:  Deposits, FHLB advances (or other borrowings) and loan repayments are our major sources of funds for lending and other investment purposes.  Scheduled loan repayments are a relatively stable source of funds, while deposit inflows and outflows and loan prepayments are influenced by general economic, interest rate and money market conditions and may vary significantly.  Borrowings may be used on a short-term basis to compensate for reductions in the availability of funds from other sources.  Borrowings may also be used on a longer-term basis for general business purposes, including funding loans and investments.

We compete with other financial institutions and financial intermediaries in attracting deposits.  There is strong competition for transaction balances and savings deposits from commercial banks, credit unions and nonbank corporations, such as securities brokerage companies, mutual funds and other diversified companies, some of which have nationwide networks of offices.  Much of the focus of our branch expansion, relocations and renovation has been directed toward attracting additional deposit customer relationships and balances.  In addition, our electronic banking activities including debit card and automated teller machine (ATM) programs, online Internet banking services and, most recently, customer remote deposit and mobile banking capabilities are all directed at providing products and services that enhance customer relationships and result in growing deposit balances.  Growing core deposits (transaction and savings accounts) is a fundamental element of our business strategy.

Deposit Accounts:  We generally attract deposits from within our primary market areas by offering a broad selection of deposit instruments, including demand checking accounts, negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts, money market deposit accounts, regular savings accounts, certificates of deposit, cash management services and retirement savings plans.  Deposit account terms vary according to the minimum balance required, the time periods the funds must remain on deposit and the interest rate, among other factors.  In determining the terms of deposit accounts, we consider current market interest rates, profitability to us, matching deposit and loan products and customer preferences and concerns.  At December 31, 2011, we had $3.5 billion of deposits, including $2.2 billion of transaction and savings accounts and $1.3 billion in time deposits.  For additional information concerning our deposit accounts, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010—Deposit Accounts.”  See also Table 11 contained therein, which sets forth the balances of deposits in the various types of accounts, and Table 12, which sets forth the amount of our certificates of deposit greater than $100,000 by time remaining until maturity as of December 31, 2011.  In addition, see Note 9 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Borrowings:  While deposits are the primary source of funds for our lending and investment activities and for general business purposes, we also use borrowings to supplement our supply of lendable funds, to meet deposit withdrawal requirements and to more efficiently leverage our capital position.  The FHLB-Seattle serves as our primary borrowing source, although in recent years we have significantly reduced our use of FHLB advances.  The FHLB-Seattle provides credit for member financial institutions such as Banner Bank and Islanders Bank.  As members, the Banks are required to own capital stock in the FHLB-Seattle and are authorized to apply for advances on the security of that stock and certain of their mortgage loans and securities provided certain credit worthiness standards have been met.  Limitations on the amount of advances are based on the financial condition of the member institution, the adequacy of collateral pledged to secure the credit, and FHLB stock ownership requirements.  At December 31, 2011, we had $11 million of borrowings from the FHLB-Seattle.  At that date, Banner Bank had been authorized by the FHLB-Seattle to borrow up to $830 million under a blanket floating lien security agreement, while Islanders Bank was approved to borrow up to $25 million under a similar agreement.  More recently, the Federal Reserve Bank has also served as an important source of borrowings.  The Federal Reserve Bank provides credit based upon acceptable loan collateral, which includes certain loan types not eligible for pledging to the FHLB-Seattle.  At December 31, 2011, based upon our available unencumbered collateral, Banner Bank was eligible to borrow $524 million from the Federal Reserve Bank, although at that date we had no funds borrowed under this arrangement.  Although eligible to participate, Islanders Bank has not applied for approval to borrow from the Federal Reserve Bank.  For additional information concerning our borrowings, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010—Borrowings,” Table 14 contained therein, and Notes 10 and 11 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

We issue retail repurchase agreements, generally due within 90 days, as an additional source of funds, primarily in connection with cash management services provided to our larger deposit customers.  At December 31, 2011, we had issued retail repurchase agreements totaling $102 million, which were secured by a pledge of certain U.S. Government and agency notes and mortgage-backed securities with a market value of $142 million.

On March 31, 2009, Banner Bank completed an offering of $50 million of qualifying senior bank notes that are guaranteed by the FDIC under the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP).  These notes require interest only payments for a term of three years with principal payable in full at maturity.  These notes provided supplemental funding which strengthened the liquidity position of the Bank; however, going forward we do not anticipate any additional borrowings under the TLGP.

We also may borrow funds through the use of secured wholesale repurchase agreements with securities brokers.  During the three years ended December 31, 2011, we did not have any wholesale repurchase borrowings.

We have also issued $120 million of junior subordinated debentures in connection with the sale of trust preferred securities (TPS).  The TPS were issued from 2002 through 2007 by special purpose business trusts formed by Banner Corporation and were sold in private offerings to pooled investment vehicles.  The junior subordinated debentures associated with the TPS have been recorded as liabilities and are reported at
 
 
 
 
 
12

 
fair value on our Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition; however, at December 31, 2011, all of the $50 million fair value of the debentures qualifies as Tier 1 capital for regulatory capital purposes.  We have invested a significant portion of the proceeds from the issuance of the TPS as additional paid in capital at Banner Bank.  For additional information about deposits and other sources of funds, see Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources,” and Notes 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Personnel

As of December 31, 2011, we had 1,022 full-time and 89 part-time employees.  Banner Corporation has no employees except for those who are also employees of Banner Bank, its subsidiaries, and Islanders Bank.  The employees are not represented by a collective bargaining unit.  We believe our relationship with our employees is good.

Taxation
Federal Taxation

General:  For tax reporting purposes, we report our income on a calendar year basis using the accrual method of accounting on a consolidated basis.  We are subject to federal income taxation in the same manner as other corporations with some exceptions, including particularly the reserve for bad debts.  Reference is made to Note 13 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements of this Form 10-K for additional information concerning the income taxes payable by us.

State Taxation

Washington Taxation: We are subject to a Business and Occupation (B&O) tax which is imposed under Washington law at the rate of 1.80% of gross receipts.  For many years, this rate had been 1.50%.  However, on April 12, 2010, the Washington State Legislature passed a law that temporarily increased this rate to 1.80%.  This new higher rate will be in effect for the period May 1, 2010 through June 30, 2013.  Interest received on loans secured by mortgages or deeds of trust on residential properties, residential mortgage-backed securities, and certain U.S. Government and agency securities is not subject to this tax.  Our B&O tax expense was $2.2 million, $2.3 million, and $2.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

Oregon and Idaho Taxation: Corporations with nexus in the states of Oregon and Idaho are subject to a corporate level income tax.  Our operations in those states resulted in corporate income taxes of approximately $30,000, $60,000, and $21,000 (net of federal tax benefit) for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.  As our operations in these states increase, the state income tax provision will have an increasing effect on our effective tax rate and results of operations.

Competition

We encounter significant competition both in attracting deposits and in originating loans.  Our most direct competition for deposits comes from other commercial and savings banks, savings associations and credit unions with offices in our market areas.  We also experience competition from securities firms, insurance companies, money market and mutual funds, and other investment vehicles.  We expect continued strong competition from such financial institutions and investment vehicles in the foreseeable future, including competition from on-line Internet banking competitors.  Our ability to attract and retain deposits depends on our ability to provide transaction services and investment opportunities that satisfy the requirements of depositors.  We compete for deposits by offering a variety of accounts and financial services, including robust electronic banking capabilities, with competitive rates and terms, at convenient locations and business hours, and delivered with a high level of personal service and expertise.

Competition for loans comes principally from other commercial banks, loan brokers, mortgage banking companies, savings banks and credit unions and for agricultural loans from the Farm Credit Administration.  The competition for loans is intense as a result of the large number of institutions competing in our market areas.  We compete for loans primarily by offering competitive rates and fees and providing timely decisions and excellent service to borrowers.

Regulation
Banner Bank and Islanders Bank

General:  As state-chartered, federally insured commercial banks, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank (the Banks) are subject to extensive regulation and must comply with various statutory and regulatory requirements, including prescribed minimum capital standards.  The Banks are regularly examined by the FDIC and state banking regulators and file periodic reports concerning their activities and financial condition with these banking regulators.  The Banks’ relationship with depositors and borrowers also is regulated to a great extent by both federal and state law, especially in such matters as the ownership of deposit accounts and the form and content of mortgage and other loan documents.

Federal and state banking laws and regulations govern all areas of the operation of the Banks, including reserves, loans, investments, deposits, capital, issuance of securities, payment of dividends and establishment of branches.  Federal and state bank regulatory agencies also have the general authority to limit the dividends paid by insured banks and bank holding companies if such payments should be deemed to constitute an unsafe and unsound practice.  Under the Bank MOU, Banner Bank is not able to pay cash dividends to Banner Corporation without the prior approval of the Washington DFI and the FDIC.  The respective primary federal regulators of Banner Corporation, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank have authority to impose penalties, initiate civil and administrative actions and take other steps intended to prevent banks from engaging in unsafe or unsound practices.

State Regulation and Supervision:  As a Washington state-chartered commercial bank with branches in the States of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, Banner Bank is subject to the applicable provisions of Washington, Oregon and Idaho law and regulations.  State law and regulations
 
 
 
 
 
13

 
govern Banner Bank’s ability to take deposits and pay interest thereon, to make loans on or invest in residential and other real estate, to make consumer loans, to invest in securities, to offer various banking services to its customers and to establish branch offices.  In a similar fashion, Washington State laws and regulations for state-chartered commercial banks also apply to Islanders Bank.

Deposit Insurance:  The deposits of the Banks are insured up to applicable limits by the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF), which is administered by the FDIC.  The FDIC is an independent federal agency that insures the deposits, up to applicable limits, of depository institutions and this insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.  As insurer of the Banks’ deposits, the FDIC has supervisory and enforcement authority over Banner Bank and Islanders Bank.  The FDIC imposes deposit insurance premiums and is authorized to conduct examinations of and to require reporting by institutions insured by the FDIC.  It also may prohibit any institution insured by the FDIC from engaging in any activity determined by regulation or order to pose a serious risk to the institution and the DIF.  The FDIC also has the authority to initiate enforcement actions and may terminate the deposit insurance if it determines that an institution has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices or is in an unsafe or unsound condition.

As required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), the FDIC has adopted rules effective April 1, 2011, under which insurance premium assessments are based on an institution's total assets minus its tangible equity (defined as Tier 1 capital) instead of its deposits.  Under these rules, an institution with total assets of less than $10 billion will be assigned to one of four risk categories based on its capital, supervisory ratings and other factors.  Well capitalized institutions that are financially sound with only a few minor weaknesses are assigned to Risk Category I.  Risk Categories II, III, and IV present progressively greater risks to the DIF.  A range of initial base assessment rates apply to each category, subject to adjustment downward based on unsecured debt issued by the institution and, except for an institution in Risk Category I, adjustment upward if the institution’s brokered deposits exceed 10% of its domestic deposits, to produce total base assessment rates.  Total base assessment rates range from 2.5 to 9 basis points for Risk Category I, 9 to 24 basis points for Risk Category II, 18 to 33 basis points for Risk Category III, and 30 to 45 basis points for Risk Category IV, all subject to further adjustment upward if the institution holds more than a de minimis amount of unsecured debt issued by another FDIC-insured institution.  The FDIC may increase or decrease its rates by 2.0 basis points without further rulemaking.

As a result of a decline in the reserve ratio (the ratio of the net worth of the DIF to estimated insured deposits) and concerns about expected failure costs and available liquid assets in the DIF, the FDIC adopted a rule requiring each insured institution to prepay on December 30, 2009 the estimated amount of its quarterly assessments for the fourth quarter of 2009 and all quarters through the end of 2012 (in addition to the regular quarterly assessment for the third quarter which was due on December 30, 2009).  The prepaid amount is recorded as an asset with a zero risk weight and the institution will continue to record quarterly expenses for deposit insurance.  For purposes of calculating the prepaid amount, assessments were measured at the institution’s assessment rate as of September 30, 2009, with a uniform increase of three basis points effective January 1, 2011, and were based on the institution’s assessment base for the third quarter of 2009, with growth assumed quarterly at annual rate of 5%.  If events cause actual assessments during the prepayment period to vary from the prepaid amount, institutions will pay excess assessments in cash or receive a rebate of prepaid amounts not exhausted after collection of assessments due on June 30, 2013, as applicable.  Collection of the prepayment does not preclude the FDIC from changing assessment rates or revising the risk-based assessment system in the future.  The rule includes a process for exemption from the prepayment for institutions whose safety and soundness would be affected adversely. We prepaid $31.6 million in FDIC assessments during the fourth quarter of 2009 and the balance of the prepaid assessment was $15.8 million at December 31, 2011.

The Dodd-Frank Act establishes 1.35% as the minimum reserve ratio. The FDIC has adopted a plan under which it will meet this ratio by September 30, 2020, the deadline imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act.  The Dodd-Frank Act requires the FDIC to offset the effect on institutions with assets less than $10 billion of the increase in the statutory minimum reserve ratio to 1.35% from the former statutory minimum of 1.15%.  The FDIC has not yet announced how it will implement this offset.  In addition to the statutory minimum ratio, the FDIC must designate a reserve ratio, known as the designated reserve ratio or DRR, which may exceed the statutory minimum.  The FDIC has established 2.0% as the DRR.  In addition, all institutions with deposits insured by the FDIC are required to pay assessments to fund interest payments on bonds issued by the Financing Corporation, an agency of the Federal government established to fund the costs of failed thrifts in the 1980’s.  For the quarterly period ended December 31, 2011, the Financing Corporation assessment equaled 0.680 basis points for each $100 in domestic deposits.  These assessments, which may be revised based upon the level of DIF deposits, will continue until the bonds mature in the years 2017 through 2019.  For 2011, the Banks incurred $280,000 in FICO assessments.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, beginning on January 1, 2011, all non-interest-bearing transaction accounts and interest on lawyers trust accounts (“IOLTA”) qualify for unlimited deposit insurance by the FDIC through December 31, 2012.  NOW accounts, which were previously fully insured under the Transaction Account Guarantee Program (TAGP), are no longer eligible for an unlimited guarantee due to the expiration of this program on December 31, 2010.  NOW accounts, along with all other deposits maintained at the Banks, are now insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per account owner.

The FDIC may terminate the deposit insurance of any insured depository institution if it determines after a hearing that the institution has engaged or is engaging in unsafe or unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations, or has violated any applicable law, regulation, order or any condition imposed by an agreement with the FDIC.  It also may suspend deposit insurance temporarily during the hearing process for the permanent termination of insurance if the institution meets certain criteria.  If insurance of accounts is terminated, the accounts at the institution at the time of the termination, less subsequent withdrawals, shall continue to be insured for a period of six months to two years, as determined by the FDIC.  Management is not aware of any existing circumstances which would result in termination of the deposit insurance of either Banner Bank or Islanders Bank.

Prompt Corrective Action:  Federal statutes establish a supervisory framework based on five capital categories:  well capitalized, adequately capitalized, undercapitalized, significantly undercapitalized and critically undercapitalized.  An institution’s category depends upon where its capital levels are in relation to relevant capital measures, which include a risk-based capital measure, a leverage ratio capital measure and certain other factors.  The federal banking agencies have adopted regulations that implement this statutory framework.  Under these regulations, an institution is treated as well capitalized if its ratio of total capital to risk-weighted assets is 10% or more, its ratio of core capital to risk-weighted
 
 
 
14

 
assets is 6% or more, its ratio of core capital to adjusted total assets (leverage ratio) is 5% or more, and it is not subject to any federal supervisory order or directive to meet a specific capital level.  In order to be adequately capitalized, an institution must have a total risk-based capital ratio of not less than 8%, a core capital to risk-weighted assets ratio of not less than 4%, and a leverage ratio of not less than 4%.  An institution that is not well capitalized is subject to certain restrictions on brokered deposits, including restrictions on the rates it can offer on its deposits generally.  Any institution which is neither well capitalized nor adequately capitalized is considered undercapitalized.

Undercapitalized institutions are subject to certain prompt corrective action requirements, regulatory controls and restrictions which become more extensive as an institution becomes more severely undercapitalized.  Failure by either Banner Bank and Islanders Bank to comply with applicable capital requirements would, if unremedied, result in progressively more severe restrictions on its activities and lead to enforcement actions, including, but not limited to, the issuance of a capital directive to ensure the maintenance of required capital levels and, ultimately, the appointment of the FDIC as receiver or conservator.  Banking regulators will take prompt corrective action with respect to depository institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements.  Additionally, approval of any regulatory application filed for their review may be dependent on compliance with capital requirements.

At December 31, 2011, both Banner Bank and Islanders Bank were categorized as “well capitalized” under the prompt corrective action regulations of the FDIC.  For additional information, see Note 18 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Standards for Safety and Soundness:  The federal banking regulatory agencies have prescribed, by regulation, guidelines for all insured depository institutions relating to internal controls, information systems and internal audit systems; loan documentation; credit underwriting; interest rate risk exposure; asset growth; asset quality; earnings; and compensation, fees and benefits.  The guidelines set forth the safety and soundness standards that the federal banking agencies use to identify and address problems at insured depository institutions before capital becomes impaired.  Each insured depository institution must implement a comprehensive written information security program that includes administrative, technical, and physical safeguards appropriate to the institution’s size and complexity and the nature and scope of its activities.  The information security program must be designed to ensure the security and confidentiality of customer information, protect against any unanticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of such information, protect against unauthorized access to or use of such information that could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to any customer, and ensure the proper disposal of customer and consumer information.  Each insured depository institution must also develop and implement a risk-based response program to address incidents of unauthorized access to customer information in customer information systems.  If the FDIC determines that an institution fails to meet any of these guidelines, it may require an institution to submit to the FDIC an acceptable plan to achieve compliance.

Capital Requirements: Federally insured financial institutions, such as Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, are required to maintain a minimum level of regulatory capital.  FDIC regulations recognize two types, or tiers, of capital:  core (Tier 1) capital and supplementary (Tier 2) capital.  Tier 1 capital generally includes common stockholders’ equity and qualifying noncumulative perpetual preferred stock, less most intangible assets.  Tier 2 capital, which is recognized up  to 100% of Tier 1 capital for risk-based capital purposes (after any deductions for disallowed intangibles and disallowed deferred tax assets), includes such items as qualifying general loan loss reserves (up to 1.25% of risk-weighted assets), cumulative perpetual preferred stock, long-term preferred stock, certain perpetual preferred stock, hybrid capital instruments including mandatory convertible debt, term subordinated debt, intermediate-term preferred stock (original average maturity of at least five years), and net unrealized holding gains on equity securities (subject to certain limitations); provided, however, the amount of term subordinated debt and intermediate term preferred stock that may be included in Tier 2 capital for risk-based capital purposes is limited to 50% of Tier 1 capital.

The FDIC currently measures an institution’s capital using a leverage limit together with certain risk-based ratios.  The FDIC’s minimum leverage capital requirement specifies a minimum ratio of Tier 1 capital to average total assets.  Most banks are required to maintain a minimum leverage ratio of at least 3% to 4% of total assets.  At December 31, 2011, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank had Tier 1 leverage capital ratios of 11.71% and 12.08%, respectively.  The FDIC retains the right to require an institution to maintain a higher capital level based on an institution’s particular risk profile.  Under the Bank MOU, we are required to maintain Banner Bank’s leverage ratio at a minimum of 10%.

FDIC regulations also establish a measure of capital adequacy based on ratios of qualifying capital to risk-weighted assets.  Assets are placed in one of four categories and given a percentage weight based on the relative risk of the category.  In addition, certain off-balance-sheet items are converted to balance-sheet credit equivalent amounts, and each amount is then assigned to one of the four categories.  Under the guidelines, the ratio of total capital (Tier 1 capital plus Tier 2 capital) to risk-weighted assets must be at least 8%, and the ratio of Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets must be at least 4%.  In evaluating the adequacy of a bank’s capital, the FDIC may also consider other factors that may affect the bank’s financial condition.  Such factors may include interest rate risk exposure, liquidity, funding and market risks, the quality and level of earnings, concentration of credit risk, risks arising from nontraditional activities, loan and investment quality, the effectiveness of loan and investment policies, and management’s ability to monitor and control financial operating risks.  At December 31, 2011, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank had Tier 1 risk-based capital ratios of 14.54% and 14.81%, respectively, and total risk-based capital ratios of 15.81% and 16.06%, respectively.

FDIC capital requirements are designated as the minimum acceptable standards for banks whose overall financial condition is fundamentally sound, which are well-managed and have no material or significant financial weaknesses.  The FDIC capital regulations state that, where the FDIC determines that the financial history or condition, including off-balance-sheet risk, managerial resources and/or the future earnings prospects of a bank are not adequate and/or a bank has a significant volume of assets classified substandard, doubtful or loss or otherwise criticized, the FDIC may determine that the minimum adequate amount of capital for the bank is greater than the minimum standards established in the regulation.

We believe that, under the current regulations, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank exceed their minimum capital requirements.  However, events beyond the control of the Banks, such as weak or depressed economic conditions in areas where they have most of their loans, could adversely affect future earnings and, consequently, the ability of the Banks to meet their capital requirements.  For additional information concerning Banner Bank’s and Islanders Bank’s capital, see Note 18 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
 

 
 
15

 

The Dodd-Frank Act contains a number of provisions that will affect the capital requirements applicable to the Company and the Banks.  In addition, on September 12, 2010, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision adopted the Basel III capital rules. These rules, which will be phased in over a period of years, set new standards for common equity, Tier 1 and total capital, determined on a risk-weighted basis.  Although Basel III is intended to be implemented by participating countries for large, internationally active banks, its provisions are likely to be considered by United States banking regulators in developing new regulations applicable to other banks in the United States, including the Banks.

For banks in the United States, among the most significant provisions of Basel III concerning capital are the following:

·  
A minimum ratio of common equity to risk-weighted assets reaching 4.5%, plus an additional 2.5% as a capital conservation buffer, by 2019 after a phase-in period.
·  
A minimum ratio of Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets reaching 6.0% by 2019 after a phase-in period.
·  
A minimum ratio of total capital to risk-weighted assets, plus the additional 2.5% capital conservation buffer, reaching 10.5% by 2019 after a phase-in period.
·  
An additional countercyclical capital buffer to be imposed by applicable national banking regulators periodically at their discretion, with advance notice.
·  
Restrictions on capital distributions and discretionary bonuses applicable when capital ratios fall within the buffer zone.
·  
Deduction from common equity of deferred tax assets that depend on future profitability to be realized.
·  
Increased capital requirements for counterparty credit risk relating to OTC derivatives, repos and securities financing activities.
·  
For capital instruments issued on or after January 13, 2013 (other than common equity), a loss-absorbency requirement such that the instrument must be written off or converted to common equity if a trigger event occurs, either pursuant to applicable law or at the direction of the banking regulator.  A trigger event is an event under which the banking entity would become nonviable without the write-off or conversion, or without an injection of capital from the public sector.  The issuer must maintain authorization to issue the requisite shares of common equity if conversion were required.

The Basel III provisions on liquidity include complex criteria establishing a liquidity coverage ratio (“LCR”) and net stable funding ratio (“NSFR”).  The purpose of the LCR is to ensure that a bank maintains adequate unencumbered, high quality liquid assets to meet its liquidity needs for 30 days under a severe liquidity stress scenario.  The purpose of the NSFR is to promote more medium and long-term funding of assets and activities, using a one-year horizon.  Although Basel III is described as a “final text,” it is subject to the resolution of certain issues and to further guidance and modification, as well as to adoption by United States banking regulators, including decisions as to whether and to what extent it will apply to United States banks that are not large, internationally active banks.

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA):  In October 2008, the EESA was enacted.  The EESA authorizes the U.S. Treasury Department to purchase from financial institutions and their holding companies up to $700 billion in mortgage loans, mortgage-related securities and certain other financial instruments, including debt and equity securities issued by financial institutions and their holding companies in a troubled asset relief program, or TARP.  The purpose of TARP is to restore confidence and stability to the U.S. banking system and to encourage financial institutions to increase their lending to customers and to each other.  Under the TARP Capital Purchase Program, or CPP, the Treasury may purchase debt or equity securities from participating institutions.  The TARP also allows direct purchases or guarantees of troubled assets of financial institutions.  Participants in the CPP are subject to executive compensation limits and are encouraged to expand their lending and mortgage loan modifications.  Banner completed its TARP CPP transaction on November 21, 2008 and received $124 million in funding from the U.S. Treasury Department.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA):  On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed ARRA into law.  The ARRA amends the provisions of the EESA that are applicable to TARP recipients, such as Banner Corporation.  Accordingly, Banner Corporation is now subject to additional limitations on executive compensation, including a provision for recovery of bonus, retention awards, or incentive compensation paid based on earnings, revenue, gains or other criteria later found to be materially inaccurate, a prohibition on making golden parachute payments (including payments on account of termination of employment), a prohibition on paying or accruing any bonus, retention award or incentive compensation (except for certain grants of long-term restricted stock), and providing tax gross-ups.  These restrictions and prohibitions apply to various Banner Corporation officers, since Banner Corporation is a participant in TARP CPP.    For additional information regarding the TARP CPP, see Item 1A, Risk Factors—“Because of our participation in the TARP Capital Purchase Program, we are subject to several restrictions including restrictions on compensation paid to our executives.”

Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program:  Following a systemic risk determination, the FDIC established a Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, or TLGP, on October 14, 2008.  There are two parts to the program: the Debt Guarantee Program, or the DGP, and the Transaction Account Guarantee Program, or the TAGP, which ended on December 31, 2010.  Eligible entities generally are participants unless they exercised opt out rights in timely fashion.  Banner Bank and Islanders Bank did not opt out of these programs.

For the DGP, eligible entities are generally U.S. bank holding companies, savings and loan holding companies, and FDIC-insured institutions.  Under the DGP, the FDIC guarantees certain senior unsecured debt of an eligible entity that was issued not later than October 31, 2009.  The guarantee is effective through the earlier of the maturity date or June 30, 2012 (for debt issued before April 1, 2009) or December 31, 2012 (for debt issued on or after April 1, 2009).  The DGP coverage limit is generally 125% of the eligible entity’s eligible debt outstanding on September 30, 2008 and scheduled to mature on or before June 30, 2009, or for certain institutions, 2% of liabilities as of September 30, 2008.  The nonrefundable DGP fee ranges from 50 to 100 basis points (annualized), depending on maturity, for covered debt outstanding during the period until the earlier of maturity or June 30, 2012, with various surcharges of 10 to 50 basis points applicable to debt with a maturity of one year or more issued on or after April 1, 2009.  Generally, eligible debt of a participating entity becomes covered when and as issued until the coverage limit is reached, except that under some circumstances, participating entities can issue certain nonguaranteed debt.  Various features of the DGP require applications, additional fees, and approvals. On March 31, 2009, Banner Bank completed an offering of $50 million of qualifying senior

 
16

 

bank notes that are guaranteed by the FDIC under the DGP.  These notes require interest only payments for a term of three years with principal payable in full at maturity.  Banner Bank is required to pay a 1.00% fee (annualized) on this debt, which will result in a total fee of $1.5 million over three years.  None of the senior notes are redeemable prior to maturity.  We do not anticipate any additional borrowing under the TLGP.

For the TAGP, eligible entities were FDIC-insured institutions. Under the TAGP, the FDIC provided unlimited deposit insurance coverage for non-interest-bearing transaction accounts (typically business checking accounts), NOW accounts bearing interest at 0.5% or less, and certain funds swept into non-interest-bearing savings accounts.  Other NOW accounts and money market deposit accounts were not covered.  On September 27, 2010, the FDIC announced that it would not continue the TAGP beyond December 31, 2010.  As previously indicated, however, under the Dodd-Frank Act and the FDIC rules, separate temporary coverage for non-interest-bearing transaction accounts and IOLTA accounts became effective on December 31, 2010, terminating on December 31, 2012, so that all funds held in such accounts are fully insured, without limit.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010:  On July 21, 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law. The Dodd-Frank Act implements far-reaching changes across the financial regulatory landscape, including provisions that, among other things, has or will:
 
·
Centralize responsibility for consumer financial protection by creating a new agency within the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, with broad rulemaking, supervision and enforcement authority for a wide range of consumer protection laws that would apply to all banks and thrifts.  Smaller financial institutions, including the Banks, will be subject to the supervision and enforcement of their primary federal banking regulator with respect to the federal consumer financial protection laws.
·
Require the federal banking regulators to promulgate new capital regulations and seek to make their capital requirements countercyclical, so that capital requirements increase in times of economic expansion and decrease in times of economic contraction.
·
Provide for new disclosure and other requirements relating to executive compensation and corporate governance.
·
Made permanent the $250,000 limit for federal deposit insurance and provide unlimited federal deposit insurance until January 1, 2013 for non-interest-bearing demand transaction accounts at all insured depository institutions.
·
Effective July 21, 2011, repealed the federal prohibitions on the payment of interest on demand deposits, thereby permitting depository institutions to pay interest on business transaction and other accounts.
·
Required all depository institution holding companies to serve as a source of financial strength to their depository institution subsidiaries in the event such subsidiaries suffer from financial distress.

Many aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act are subject to rulemaking and will take effect over several years, making it difficult to anticipate the overall financial impact on Banner Corporation and the financial services industry more generally.  The elimination of the prohibition on the payment of interest on demand deposits could materially increase our interest expense, depending on our competitors’ responses.  Provisions in the legislation that require revisions to the capital requirements of Banner Corporation and the Banks could require Banner Corporation and the Banks to seek additional sources of capital in the future.

Commercial Real Estate Lending Concentrations:  The federal banking agencies have issued guidance on sound risk management practices for concentrations in commercial real estate lending.  The particular focus is on exposure to commercial real estate loans that are dependent on the cash flow from the real estate held as collateral and that are likely to be sensitive to conditions in the commercial real estate market (as opposed to real estate collateral held as a secondary source of repayment or as an abundance of caution).  The purpose of the guidance is not to limit a bank’s commercial real estate lending but to guide banks in developing risk management practices and capital levels commensurate with the level and nature of real estate concentrations.  The guidance directs the FDIC and other bank regulatory agencies to focus their supervisory resources on institutions that may have significant commercial real estate loan concentration risk.  A bank that has experienced rapid growth in commercial real estate lending, has notable exposure to a specific type of commercial real estate loan, or is approaching or exceeding the following supervisory criteria may be identified for further supervisory analysis with respect to real estate concentration risk:

·  
Total reported loans for construction, land development and other land represent 100% or more of the bank’s capital; or

·  
Total commercial real estate loans (as defined in the guidance) represent 300% or more of the bank’s total capital or the outstanding balance of the bank’s commercial real estate loan portfolio has increased 50% or more during the prior 36 months.

The guidance provides that the strength of an institution’s lending and risk management practices with respect to such concentrations will be taken into account in supervisory guidance on evaluation of capital adequacy.  As of December 31, 2011, Banner Bank’s and Islanders Bank’s aggregate loans for construction, land development and land loans were 85% and 50% of total capital, respectively.  In addition, at December 31, 2011 Banner Bank’s and Islanders Bank’s loans on commercial real estate were 226% and 247% of total capital, respectively.  As part of the Bank MOU, Banner Bank was required to develop and implement a plan to reduce its commercial real estate concentration.  Banner Bank has reduced its commercial real estate concentration from 303% at March 31, 2010 to 226% at December 31, 2011.

Activities and Investments of Insured State-Chartered Financial Institutions:  Federal law generally limits the activities and equity investments of FDIC insured, state-chartered banks to those that are permissible for national banks.  An insured state bank is not prohibited from, among other things, (1) acquiring or retaining a majority interest in a subsidiary, (2) investing as a limited partner in a partnership the sole purpose of which is direct or indirect investment in the acquisition, rehabilitation or new construction of a qualified housing project, provided that such limited partnership investments may not exceed 2% of the bank’s total assets, (3) acquiring up to 10% of the voting stock of a company that solely provides or reinsures directors’, trustees’ and officers’ liability insurance coverage or bankers’ blanket bond group insurance coverage for insured depository institutions, and (4) acquiring or retaining the voting shares of a depository institution if certain requirements are met.


 
17

 
Washington State has enacted a law regarding financial institution parity.  Primarily, the law affords Washington-chartered commercial banks the same powers as Washington-chartered savings banks.  In order for a bank to exercise these powers, it must provide 30 days notice to the Director of the Washington Department of Financial Institutions and the Director must authorize the requested activity.  In addition, the law provides that Washington-chartered commercial banks may exercise any of the powers that the Federal Reserve has determined to be closely related to the business of banking and the powers of national banks, subject to the approval of the Director in certain situations.  The law also provides that Washington-chartered savings banks may exercise any of the powers of Washington-chartered commercial banks, national banks and federally-chartered savings banks, subject to the approval of the Director in certain situations.  Finally, the law provides additional flexibility for Washington-chartered commercial and savings banks with respect to interest rates on loans and other extensions of credit.  Specifically, they may charge the maximum interest rate allowable for loans and other extensions of credit by federally-chartered financial institutions to Washington residents.

Environmental Issues Associated With Real Estate Lending: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) is a federal statute that generally imposes strict liability on all prior and present “owners and operators” of sites containing hazardous waste.  However, Congress asked to protect secured creditors by providing that the term “owner and operator” excludes a person whose ownership is limited to protecting its security interest in the site.  Since the enactment of the CERCLA, this “secured creditor exemption” has been the subject of judicial interpretations which have left open the possibility that lenders could be liable for cleanup costs on contaminated property that they hold as collateral for a loan.  To the extent that legal uncertainty exists in this area, all creditors, including Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, that have made loans secured by properties with potential hazardous waste contamination (such as petroleum contamination) could be subject to liability for cleanup costs, which costs often substantially exceed the value of the collateral property.

Federal Reserve System:  The Federal Reserve Board requires that all depository institutions maintain reserves on transaction accounts or nonpersonal time deposits.  These reserves may be in the form of cash or non-interest-bearing deposits with the regional Federal Reserve Bank.  NOW accounts and other types of accounts that permit payments or transfers to third parties fall within the definition of transaction accounts and are subject to Regulation D reserve requirements, as are any nonpersonal time deposits at a bank.  At December 31, 2011, the Banks’ deposits with the Federal Reserve Bank and vault cash exceeded their reserve requirements.

Affiliate Transactions:  Banner Corporation, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank are separate and distinct legal entities. Federal laws strictly limit the ability of banks to engage in certain transactions with their affiliates, including their bank holding companies.  Transactions deemed to be a “covered transaction” under Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act and between a subsidiary bank and its parent company or any nonbank subsidiary of the bank holding company are limited to 10% of the subsidiary bank’s capital and surplus and, with respect to the parent company and all such nonbank subsidiaries, to an aggregate of 20% of the subsidiary bank’s capital and surplus.  Further, covered transactions that are loans and extensions of credit generally are required to be secured by eligible collateral in specified amounts.  Federal law also requires that covered transactions and certain other transactions listed in Section 23B of the Federal Reserve Act between a bank and its affiliates be on terms as favorable to the bank as transactions with nonaffiliates.

Community Reinvestment Act:  Banner Bank and Islanders Bank are subject to the provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA), which requires the appropriate federal bank regulatory agency to assess a bank’s performance under the CRA in meeting the credit needs of the community serviced by the bank, including low and moderate income neighborhoods.  The regulatory agency’s assessment of the bank’s record is made available to the public.  Further, a bank’s CRA performance rating must be considered in connection with a bank’s application to, among other things, to establish a new branch office that will accept deposits, relocate an existing office or merge or consolidate with, or acquire the assets or assume the liabilities of, a federally regulated financial institution.  Both Banner Bank and Islanders Bank received a “satisfactory” rating during their most recent CRA examinations.

Dividends:  The amount of dividends payable by the Banks to us will depend upon their earnings and capital position, and is limited by federal and state laws, regulations and policies.  Federal law further provides that no insured depository institution may make any capital distribution (which includes a cash dividend) if, after making the distribution, the institution would be “undercapitalized,” as defined in the prompt corrective action regulations.  Moreover, the federal bank regulatory agencies also have the general authority to limit the dividends paid by insured banks if such payments should be deemed to constitute an unsafe and unsound practice.  Under the Bank MOU, Banner Bank is not able to pay us dividends without the prior approval of the Washington DFI and the FDIC.

Privacy Standards:  The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (GLBA) modernized the financial services industry by establishing a comprehensive framework to permit affiliations among commercial banks, insurance companies, securities firms and other financial service providers.  Banner Bank and Islanders Bank are subject to FDIC regulations implementing the privacy protection provisions of the GLBA.  These regulations require the Banks to disclose their privacy policy, including informing consumers of their information sharing practices and informing consumers of their rights to opt out of certain practices.

Anti-Money Laundering and Customer Identification:   In response to the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA Patriot Act) was signed into law on October 26, 2001.  The USA Patriot Act gives the federal government new powers to address terrorist threats through enhanced domestic security measures, expanded surveillance powers, increased information sharing, and broadened anti-money laundering requirements.  Bank regulators are directed to consider a holding company’s effectiveness in combating money laundering when ruling on Bank Holding Company Act and Bank Merger Act applications.  Banner Bank’s and Islanders Bank’s policies and procedures comply with the requirements of the USA Patriot Act.

Other Consumer Protection Laws and Regulations:  The Banks are subject to a broad array of federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations that govern almost every aspect of its business relationships with consumers.  While the list set forth below is not exhaustive, these include the Truth-in-Lending Act, the Truth in Savings Act, the Electronic Fund Transfers Act, the Expedited Funds Availability Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Homeowners
 
 
 
 
18

 
 
Protection Act, the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, laws governing flood insurance, laws governing consumer protections in connection with the sale of insurance, federal and state laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive business practices, and various regulations that implement some or all of the foregoing.  These laws and regulations mandate certain disclosure requirements and regulate the manner in which financial institutions must deal with customers when taking deposits, making loans, collecting loans, and providing other services.  Failure to comply with these laws and regulations can subject the Banks to various penalties, including but not limited to, enforcement actions, injunctions, fines, civil liability, criminal penalties, punitive damages, and the loss of certain contractual rights.

Banner Corporation

General:  Banner Corporation, as sole shareholder of Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, is a bank holding company registered with the Federal Reserve.  Bank holding companies are subject to comprehensive regulation by the Federal Reserve under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended, or the BHCA, and the regulations of the Federal Reserve.  We are required to file quarterly reports with the Federal Reserve and provide additional information as the Federal Reserve may require.  The Federal Reserve may examine us, and any of our subsidiaries, and charge us for the cost of the examination.  The Federal Reserve also has extensive enforcement authority over bank holding companies, including, among other things, the ability to assess civil money penalties, to issue cease and desist or removal orders and to require that a holding company divest subsidiaries (including its bank subsidiaries).  In general, enforcement actions may be initiated for violations of law and regulations and unsafe or unsound practices.  Banner Corporation is also required to file certain reports with, and otherwise comply with the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Bank Holding Company Act:  Under the BHCA, we are supervised by the Federal Reserve.  The Federal Reserve has a policy that a bank holding company is required to serve as a source of financial and managerial strength to its subsidiary banks and may not conduct its operations in an unsafe or unsound manner.  In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act and earlier Federal Reserve policy provide that a bank holding company should serve as a source of strength to its subsidiary banks by having the ability to provide financial assistance to its subsidiary banks during periods of financial distress to the banks.  A bank holding company’s failure to meet its obligation to serve as a source of strength to its subsidiary banks will generally be considered by the Federal Reserve to be an unsafe and unsound banking practice or a violation of the Federal Reserve’s regulations or both.  The Dodd-Frank Act requires new regulations to be promulgated concerning the source of strength.  Banner Corporation and any subsidiaries that it may control are considered “affiliates” within the meaning of the Federal Reserve Act, and transactions between Banner Bank and affiliates are subject to numerous restrictions.  With some exceptions, Banner Corporation, and its subsidiaries, are prohibited from tying the provision of various services, such as extensions of credit, to other services offered by Banner Corporation, or by its affiliates.

Acquisitions:  The BHCA prohibits a bank holding company, with certain exceptions, from acquiring ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of any company that is not a bank or bank holding company and from engaging in activities other than those of banking, managing or controlling banks, or providing services for its subsidiaries.  Under the BHCA, the Federal Reserve may approve the ownership of shares by a bank holding company in any company, the activities of which the Federal Reserve has determined to be so closely related to the business of banking or managing or controlling banks as to be a proper incident thereto.  These activities include:  operating a savings institution, mortgage company, finance company, credit card company or factoring company; performing certain data processing operations; providing certain investment and financial advice; underwriting and acting as an insurance agent for certain types of credit-related insurance; leasing property on a full-payout, non-operating basis; selling money orders, travelers’ checks and U.S. Savings Bonds; real estate and personal property appraising; providing tax planning and preparation services; and, subject to certain limitations, providing securities brokerage services for customers.

Federal Securities Laws:  Banner Corporation’s common stock is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.  We are subject to information, proxy solicitation, insider trading restrictions and other requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the Exchange Act).

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002:  The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was signed into law on July 30, 2002 in response to public concerns regarding corporate accountability in connection with several accounting scandals.  The stated goals of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are to increase corporate responsibility, to provide for enhanced penalties for accounting and auditing improprieties at publicly traded companies and to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures pursuant to the securities laws.  The Sarbanes-Oxley Act generally applies to all companies, such as Banner Corporation, that file or are required to file periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), under the Exchange Act.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act includes very specific additional disclosure requirements and corporate governance rules and requires the SEC and securities exchanges to adopt extensive additional disclosure, corporate governance and other related rules and mandates further studies of certain issues by the SEC and the Comptroller General.  Our policies and procedures have been updated to comply with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Interstate Banking and Branching:  The Federal Reserve must approve an application of a bank holding company to acquire control of, or acquire all or substantially all of the assets of, a bank located in a state other than the holding company’s home state, without regard to whether the transaction is prohibited by the laws of any state.  The Federal Reserve may not approve the acquisition of a bank that has not been in existence for the minimum time period (not exceeding five years) specified by the statutory law of the host state.  Nor may the Federal Reserve approve an application if the applicant (and its depository institution affiliates) controls or would control more than 10% of the insured deposits in the United States or 30% or more of the deposits in the target bank’s home state or in any state in which the target bank maintains a branch.  Federal law does not affect the authority of states to limit the percentage of total insured deposits in the state which may be held or controlled by a bank holding company to the extent such limitation does not discriminate against out-of-state banks or bank holding companies.  Individual states may also waive the 30% state-wide concentration limit contained in the federal law.


 
19

 
The federal banking agencies are authorized to approve interstate merger transactions without regard to whether the transaction is prohibited by the law of any state, unless the home state of one of the banks adopted a law prior to June 1, 1997 which applies equally to all out-of-state banks and expressly prohibits merger transactions involving out-of-state banks.  Interstate acquisitions of branches will be permitted only if the law of the state in which the branch is located permits such acquisitions.  Interstate mergers and branch acquisitions will also be subject to the nationwide and statewide insured deposit concentration amounts described above.  Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the federal banking agencies may generally approve interstate de novo branching.

Dividends:  The Federal Reserve has issued a policy statement on the payment of cash dividends by bank holding companies, which expresses its view that although there are no specific regulations restricting dividend payments by bank holding companies other than state corporate laws, a bank holding company must maintain an adequate capital position and generally should not pay cash dividends unless the company’s net income for the past year is sufficient to fully fund the cash dividends and that the prospective rate of earnings appears consistent with the company’s capital needs, asset quality, and overall financial condition.  The Federal Reserve policy statement also indicates that it would be inappropriate for a company experiencing serious financial problems to borrow funds to pay dividends.  As part of the FRB MOU, the Company may not declare or pay any dividends on its common or preferred stock without the prior written non-objection of the Federal Reserve.
 
Capital Requirements: The Federal Reserve has established capital adequacy guidelines for bank holding companies that generally parallel the capital requirements of the FDIC for the Banks, although the Federal Reserve regulations provide for the inclusion of certain trust preferred securities for up to 25% of Tier 1 capital in determining compliance with the guidelines.  The Federal Reserve regulations provide that capital standards will be applied on a consolidated basis in the case of a bank holding company with $500 million or more in total consolidated assets.  The guidelines require that a company’s total risk-based capital must equal 8% of risk-weighted assets and one half of the 8% (4%) must consist of Tier 1 (core) capital.  As of December 31, 2011, Banner Corporation’s total risk-based capital was 18.07% of risk-weighted assets and its Tier 1 (core) capital was 16.80% of risk-weighted assets.  The Dodd-Frank Act requires new capital regulations to be adopted in final form 18 months after the July 21, 2010 enactment date of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Many of the Dodd-Frank Act’s implementing rules and regulations have been delayed and proposed capital regulations were issued by the Federal Reserve in December 2011, which are subject to a comment period ending in March 2012.

Stock Repurchases:  A bank holding company, except for certain “well-capitalized” and highly rated bank holding companies, is required to give the Federal Reserve prior written notice of any purchase or redemption of its outstanding equity securities if the gross consideration for the purchase or redemption, when combined with the net consideration paid for all such purchases or redemptions during the preceding twelve months, is equal to 10% or more of its consolidated net worth.  The Federal Reserve may disapprove such a purchase or redemption if it determines that the proposal would constitute an unsafe or unsound practice or would violate any law, regulation, Federal Reserve order or any condition imposed by, or written agreement with, the Federal Reserve.  The Company has been informed that it may not repurchase its common stock without the prior written non-objection of the Federal Reserve Bank.  We did not repurchase any shares of common stock during the 2011 fiscal year.

Management Personnel
Executive Officers

The following table sets forth information with respect to the executive officers of Banner Corporation and Banner Bank as of December 31, 2011:

Name
Age
Position with Banner Corporation
Position with Banner Bank
       
Mark J. Grescovich
47
President, Chief Executive Officer,
President, Chief Executive Officer,
   
Director
Director
       
Lloyd W. Baker
63
Executive Vice President,
Executive Vice President,
   
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer
       
Cynthia D. Purcell
54
 
Executive Vice President,
     
Retail Banking and Administration
       
Richard B. Barton
68
 
Executive Vice President,
     
Chief Lending Officer
       
Paul E. Folz
57
 
Executive Vice President,
     
Commercial Banking
       
Steven W. Rust
64
 
Executive Vice President,
     
Chief Information Officer
       
Douglas M. Bennett
59
 
Executive Vice President,
     
Real Estate Lending Operations
       
Tyrone J. Bliss
54
 
Executive Vice President,
     
Risk Management and Compliance Officer
       
Gary W. Wagers
51
 
Executive Vice President
     
Retail Products and Services
       
John T. Wagner
61
 
Executive Vice President
     
Corporate Administration

 
20

 

Biographical Information

Set forth below is certain information regarding the executive officers of Banner Corporation and Banner Bank.  There are no family relationships among or between the directors or executive officers.

Mark J. Grescovich is President and Chief Executive Officer, and a director, of Banner Corporation and Banner Bank.  Mr. Grescovich joined the Bank in April 2010 and became Chief Executive Officer in August 2010 following an extensive banking career specializing in finance, credit administration and risk management.  Prior to joining the Bank, Mr. Grescovich was the Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Banking Officer for Akron, Ohio-based FirstMerit Corporation and FirstMerit Bank N.A., a commercial bank with $14.5 billion in assets and over 200 branch offices in three states.  He assumed the role and responsibility for FirstMerit’s commercial and regional line of business in 2007, having served since 1994 in various commercial and corporate banking positions, including that of Chief Credit Officer.  Prior to joining FirstMerit, Mr. Grescovich was a Managing Partner in corporate finance with Sequoia Financial Group, Inc. of Akron, Ohio and a commercial and corporate lending officer and credit analyst with Society National Bank of Cleveland, Ohio.
 
Lloyd W. Baker joined First Savings Bank of Washington (now Banner Bank) in 1995 as Asset/Liability Manager, has been a member of the executive management committee since 1998 and has served as the Chief Financial Officer of Banner Corporation and Banner Bank since 2000.  His banking career began in 1972.

Cynthia D. Purcell was formerly the Chief Financial Officer of Inland Empire Bank (now Banner Bank), which she joined in 1981, and has served in her current position as Executive Vice President since 2000.  Ms. Purcell is responsible for Retail Banking and Administration.

Richard B. Barton joined Banner Bank in 2002 as Chief Credit Officer.  Mr. Barton’s banking career began in 1972 with Seafirst Bank and Bank of America, where he served in a variety of commercial lending and credit risk management positions.  In his last positions at Bank of America before joining Banner Bank, he served as the senior real estate risk management executive for the Pacific Northwest and as the credit risk management executive for the west coast home builder division.  Mr. Barton was named Chief Lending Officer in 2008.

Paul E. Folz joined Banner Bank in 2002.  Mr. Folz has 32 years of commercial lending experience and, prior to joining Banner, served as Washington Mutual’s Senior Vice President in charge of commercial banking operations in the State of Oregon.  Mr. Folz is responsible for Commercial Banking.

Steven W. Rust joined Banner Bank in October 2005.  Mr. Rust has over 33 years of relevant industry experience prior to joining Banner Bank and was founder and President of InfoSoft Technology, through which he worked for nine years as a technology consultant and interim Chief Information Officer for banks and insurance companies.  He worked 19 years with US Bank/West One Bancorp as Senior Vice President & Manager of Information Systems.

Douglas M. Bennett, who joined First Federal Savings and Loan (now Banner Bank) in 1974, has over 35 years of experience in real estate lending.  He has served as a member of Banner Bank’s executive management committee since 2004.

Tyrone J. Bliss joined Banner Bank in 2002.  Mr. Bliss is a Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager with more than 32 years of commercial banking experience.  Prior to joining Banner Bank, his career included senior risk management and compliance positions with Bank of America’s Consumer Finance Group, Barnett Banks, Inc., and Florida-based community banks.

Gary W. Wagers joined Banner Bank as Senior Vice President, Consumer Lending Administration in 2002 and was named to his current position in Retail Products and Services in January 2008.  Mr. Wagers began his banking career in 1982 at Idaho First National Bank.  Prior to joining Banner Bank, his career included senior management positions in retail lending and branch banking operations with West One Bank and US Bank.

John T. Wagner began his banking career in 1972 with Norwest Bank. He worked for Seafirst Bank and Bank of America from 1977 to 2003, concluding his career there as Market President for Eastern Washington and Idaho. He joined F&M Bank in October, 2003 as President and Chief Operating Officer. Currently, Mr. Wagner serves as Executive Vice President at Banner Bank.  He is a graduate of the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in Finance.  He is a 1986 graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School and has completed the Executive Management Program at Duke University.

Corporate Information

Our principal executive offices are located at 10 South First Avenue, Walla Walla, Washington 99362.  Our telephone number is (509) 527-3636.  We maintain a website with the address www.bannerbank.com.  The information contained on our website is not included as a part of, or incorporated by reference into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  Other than an investor’s own Internet access charges, we make available free of charge through our website our Annual Report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we have electronically filed such material with, or furnished such material to, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 
21

 

Item 1A – Risk Factors

An investment in our common stock is subject to risks inherent in our business.  Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below together with all of the other information included in this report.  In addition to the risks and uncertainties described below, other risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial also may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.  The value or market price of our common stock could decline due to any of these identified or other risks, and you could lose all or part of your investment.  The risks discussed below also include forward-looking statements, and our actual results may differ substantially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements.  This report is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors.

Risks Associated with Our Business

Our business may continue to be adversely affected by downturns in the national economy and the regional economies on which we depend.

Our operations are significantly affected by national and regional economic conditions.  Weakness in the national economy or the economies of the markets in which we operate could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and prospects.  Substantially all of our loans are to businesses and individuals in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  All of our branches and most of our deposit customers are also located in these three states.  Beginning in 2008, Washington, Oregon and Idaho have experienced significant home price declines, increased foreclosures and high unemployment rates, and each state continues to face fiscal challenges, which may have adverse long term effects on economic conditions.  As a result of the high concentration of our customer base in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, the deterioration of businesses in the Puget Sound area, or one or more businesses with a large employee base in that area, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and prospects.  In addition, weakness in the global economy has adversely affected many businesses operating in our markets that are dependent upon international trade.

A further deterioration in economic conditions or a prolonged delay in economic recovery in the market areas we serve, in particular the Puget Sound area of Washington State, the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, Boise, Idaho and the agricultural regions of the Columbia Basin, could result in the following consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations:
 
·
demand for our products and services may decline;
·
loan delinquencies, problem assets and foreclosures may increase;
·
collateral for loans, especially real estate, may decline further in value, in turn reducing customers’ borrowing power, reducing the value of assets and collateral associated with existing loans; and
·
the amount of our low-cost or non-interest-bearing deposits may decrease.

Declining property values have increased the loan-to-value ratios on a significant portion of our residential mortgage loan portfolio, which exposes us to greater risk of loss.

Many of our residential mortgage loans are secured by liens on mortgage properties in which the borrowers have little or no equity because either we originated the loan with a relatively high combined loan-to-value ratio or because of the decline in home values in our market areas.  Residential loans with high combined loan-to-value ratios will be more sensitive to declining property values than those with lower combined loan-to-value ratios and therefore may experience a higher incidence of default and severity of losses.  In addition, if the borrowers sell their homes, such borrowers may be unable to repay their loans in full from the sale proceeds.  As a result, these loans may experience higher rates of delinquencies, defaults and losses.

Our loan portfolio includes loans with a higher risk of loss.

We originate construction and land loans, commercial and multifamily mortgage loans, commercial business loans, consumer loans, agricultural mortgage loans and agricultural loans primarily within our market areas.  We had approximately $2.65 billion outstanding in these types of higher risk loans at December 31, 2011 compared to approximately $2.72 billion at December 31, 2010.  These loans typically present different risks to us for a number of reasons, including those discussed below:

·  
Construction and Land Loans. At December 31, 2011, construction and land loans were $319 million or 10% of our total loan portfolio.  This type of lending contains the inherent difficulty in estimating both a property’s value at completion of the project and the estimated cost (including interest) of the project.  If the estimate of construction cost proves to be inaccurate, we may be required to advance funds beyond the amount originally committed to permit completion of the project.  If the estimate of value upon completion proves to be inaccurate, we may be confronted at, or prior to, the maturity of the loan with a project the value of which is insufficient to assure full repayment.  In addition, speculative construction loans to a builder are often associated with homes that are not pre-sold, and thus pose a greater potential risk to us than construction loans to individuals on their personal residences.  Loans on land under development or held for future construction also poses additional risk because of the lack of income being produced by the property and the potential illiquid nature of the collateral.  These risks can be significantly impacted by supply and demand conditions.  As a result, this type of lending often involves the disbursement of substantial funds with repayment dependent on the success of the ultimate project and the ability of the borrower to sell the property, rather than the ability of the borrower or guarantor to independently repay principal and interest.  While our origination of these types of loans has decreased significantly in the last four years, we continue to have significant levels of construction and land loan balances.  Most of our construction loans are for the construction of single family residences.  Reflecting the current slowdown in the residential market, the secondary market for construction and land loans is not readily liquid, so we have less opportunity to mitigate our credit risk by selling part or all of our interest in these loans.  If we foreclose on a construction or land loan, our holding period for the collateral typically may be longer
 
 
 
 
22

 
 
  than we have historically experienced because there are fewer potential purchasers of the collateral.  The decline in the number of potential purchasers has contributed to the decline in the value of these loans.  Accordingly, charge-offs on construction and land loans may be larger than those incurred by other segments of our loan portfolio.  At December 31, 2011, construction and land loans that were non-performing were $28 million or 37% of our total non-performing loans. 
 
·  
Commercial and Multifamily Real Estate Loans.  At December 31, 2011, commercial and multifamily real estate loans were $1.231 billion or 37% of our total loan portfolio.  These loans typically involve higher principal amounts than other types of loans.  Repayment is dependent upon income being generated from the property securing the loan in amounts sufficient to cover operating expenses and debt service, which may be adversely affected by changes in the economy or local market conditions.  In addition, many of our commercial and multifamily real estate loans are not fully amortizing and contain large balloon payments upon maturity.  Such balloon payments may require the borrower to either sell or refinance the underlying property in order to make the payment, which may increase the risk of default or non-payment.  This risk is exacerbated in the current economic environment.  At December 31, 2011, commercial and multifamily real estate loans that were non-performing were $10 million or 13% of our total non-performing loans.

·  
Commercial Business Loans.  At December 31, 2011, commercial business loans were $601 million or 18% of our total loan portfolio. Our commercial loans are primarily made based on the cash flow of the borrower and secondarily on the underlying collateral provided by the borrower.  The borrowers’ cash flow may be unpredictable, and collateral securing these loans may fluctuate in value.  Most often, this collateral is accounts receivable, inventory, equipment or real estate.  In the case of loans secured by accounts receivable, the availability of funds for the repayment of these loans may be substantially dependent on the ability of the borrower to collect amounts due from its customers.  Other collateral securing loans may depreciate over time, may be difficult to appraise, may be illiquid and may fluctuate in value based on the success of the business.  At December 31, 2011, commercial business loans that were non-performing were $13 million or 18% of our total non-performing loans.

·  
Agricultural Loans.  At December 31, 2011, agricultural loans were $218 million or 7% of our total loan portfolio.  Repayment is dependent upon the successful operation of the business, which is greatly dependent on many things outside the control of either us or the borrowers.  These factors include weather, commodity prices, and interest rates among others.  Collateral securing these loans may be difficult to evaluate, manage or liquidate and may not provide an adequate source of repayment.  At December 31, 2011, agricultural loans that were non-performing were $2 million or 3% of our total non-performing loans.

·  
Consumer Loans.  At December 31, 2011, consumer loans were $284 million or 9% of our total loan portfolio.  Consumer loans (such as personal lines of credit) are collateralized, if at all, with assets that may not provide an adequate source of payment of the loan due to depreciation, damage, or loss.  In addition, consumer loan collections are dependent on the borrower’s continuing financial stability, and thus are more likely to be adversely affected by job loss, divorce, illness or personal bankruptcy.  Furthermore, the application of various federal and state laws, including federal and state bankruptcy and insolvency laws, may limit the amount that can be recovered on these loans.  At December 31, 2011, consumer loans that were non-performing were $3 million, or 4% of our total non-performing loans.

If our allowance for loan losses is not adequate, we may be required to make further increases in our provisions for loan losses and to charge off additional loans in the future, which could adversely affect our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

For the year ended December 31, 2011, we recorded a provision for loan losses of $35.0 million, compared to $70.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.  We also recorded net loan charge-offs of $49.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to $67.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.  Despite the decrease from the prior year, we are still experiencing elevated levels of loan delinquencies and credit losses by historical standards.  Slow sales and excess inventory in most housing markets, along with declines in property values, have been the primary cause of the elevated levels of delinquencies and foreclosures for residential construction and land development loans, which, including related real estate owned, represent 46% of our non-performing assets at December 31, 2011.  At December 31, 2011, our total non-performing assets had decreased to $118.9 million compared to $254.3 million at December 31, 2010.  Further, our portfolio is concentrated in construction and land loans, commercial business and commercial real estate loans, all of which generally have a higher risk of loss than residential mortgage loans.  If current weak conditions in the housing and real estate markets continue, we expect that we will continue to experience higher than normal delinquencies and credit losses.  Moreover, if weak economic conditions in our market areas persist, we could experience significantly higher delinquencies and credit losses.  As a result, we may be required to make further increases in our provision for loan losses and to charge off additional loans in the future, which could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Our allowance for loan losses may prove to be insufficient to absorb losses in our loan portfolio which would cause our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition to be adversely affected.

Lending money is a substantial part of our business and each loan carries a certain risk that it will not be repaid in accordance with its terms or that any underlying collateral will not be sufficient to assure repayment.  This risk is affected by, among other things:
 
·
cash flow of the borrower and/or the project being financed; 
·
in the case of a collateralized loan, the changes and uncertainties as to the future value of the collateral; 
· the duration of the loan; 
·
the character and creditworthiness of a particular borrower; and 
· changes in economic and industry conditions. 
 

 
23

 


We maintain an allowance for loan losses, which is a reserve established through a provision for loan losses charged to expense, which we believe is appropriate to provide for probable losses in our loan portfolio.  The amount of this allowance is determined by our management through periodic reviews and consideration of several factors, including, but not limited to:
 
 · 
our general reserve, based on our historical default and loss experience, certain macroeconomic factors, and management’s  expectations of future events;
·
our specific reserve, based on our evaluation of non-performing loans and their underlying collateral; and 
 · 
an unallocated reserve to provide for other credit losses inherent in our portfolio that may not have been contemplated in the other loss factors.
 
The determination of the appropriate level of the allowance for loan losses inherently involves a high degree of subjectivity and requires us to make various assumptions and judgments about the collectability of our loan portfolio, including the creditworthiness of our borrowers and the value of the real estate and other assets serving as collateral for the repayment of many of our loans.  In determining the amount of the allowance for loan losses, we review our loans and loss and delinquency experience, and evaluate economic conditions and make significant estimates of current credit risks and future trends, all of which may undergo material changes.  If our estimates are incorrect, the allowance for loan losses may not be sufficient to cover losses inherent in our loan portfolio, resulting in the need for additions to our allowance through an increase in the provision for loan losses.  Continuing deterioration in economic conditions affecting borrowers, new information regarding existing loans, identification of additional problem loans and other factors, both within and outside of our control, may require an increase in the allowance for loan losses.  Our allowance for loan losses was 2.52% of total loans outstanding and 110% of non-performing loans at December 31, 2011.  In addition, bank regulatory agencies periodically review our allowance for loan losses and may require an increase in the provision for possible loan losses or the recognition of further loan charge-offs, based on judgments different than those of management.  In addition, if charge-offs in future periods exceed the allowance for loan losses, we will need additional provisions to increase the allowance for loan losses.  Any increases in the provision for loan losses will result in a decrease in net income and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and capital.

If our non-performing assets increase, our earnings will be adversely affected.
 
At December 31, 2011 and 2010, our non-performing assets (which consist of nonaccruing loans, accruing loans 90 days or more past due, non-performing investment securities, and other real estate owned) were $119 million and $254 million, respectively, or 2.79% and 5.77% of total assets, respectively.  Our non-performing assets adversely affect our net income in various ways:
 
·  
We do not record interest income on nonaccrual loans, non-performing investment securities, or real estate owned.
·  
We must provide for probable loan losses through a current period charge to the provision for loan losses.
·  
Non-interest expense increases when we must write down the value of properties in our other real estate owned portfolio to reflect changing market values or recognize other-than-temporary impairment on non-performing investment securities.
·  
There are legal fees associated with the resolution of problem assets, as well as carrying costs, such as taxes, insurance, and maintenance fees related to our other real estate owned.
·  
The resolution of non-performing assets requires the active involvement of management, which can distract them from more profitable activity.

If additional borrowers become delinquent and do not pay their loans and we are unable to successfully manage our non-performing assets, our losses and troubled assets could increase significantly, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
 
We are required to comply with the terms of memoranda of understanding that we have entered into with the FDIC and DFI and the Federal Reserve and lack of compliance could result in additional regulatory actions.

On March 23, 2010, the FDIC and the DFI entered into an agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding, or Bank MOU, with Banner Bank. Under the terms of the Bank MOU, Banner Bank may not:
 
·
appoint any new director or senior executive officer or change the responsibilities of any current senior executive officers without the prior written non-objection of the FDIC and/or the DFI; and
·
pay cash dividends to its holding company, Banner Corporation, without the prior written consent of the FDIC and the DFI. 
 
Other material provisions of the Bank MOU require Banner Bank to:

·  
maintain Tier 1 Capital of not less than 10.0% of Banner Bank’s adjusted total assets pursuant to Part 325 of the FDIC Rules and Regulations by July 21, 2010, and maintain capital ratios above “well capitalized” thresholds as defined under Section 325.103 of the FDIC Rules and Regulations;
·  
utilize a comprehensive policy for determining the adequacy of the allowance for loan loss;
·  
formulate and implement a written plan addressing retention of profits, reduction of overhead expenses and a budget through 2012 acceptable to the FDIC and the DFI;
·  
eliminate from its books all assets classified “Loss” that have not been previously collected or charged-off;
·  
by June 30, 2010, reduce all assets classified “Substandard” in the report of examination to not more than 80% of Tier 1 capital plus the allowance for loan losses;
·  
develop a written plan for reducing adversely classified assets;
·  
develop a written plan for reducing the aggregate amount of its commercial real estate concentration; and
·  
revise, adopt and fully implement a written liquidity and funds management policy.
 
 
 
24

 
Banner Bank is required to provide the FDIC and DFI with progress reports regarding its compliance with the provisions of the Bank MOU.

In addition, on March 29, 2010, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Banner Corporation (the FRB MOU).  Under the terms of the FRB MOU, Banner Corporation, without prior written approval, or non-objection, of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, may not:

·  
appoint any new director or senior executive officer or change the responsibilities of any current senior executive officers;
·  
receive dividends or any other form of payment or distribution representing a reduction in capital from Banner Bank;
·  
declare or pay any dividends, or make any other capital distributions including payments on our junior subordinated debentures underlying our trust preferred securities;
·  
incur, renew, increase, or guarantee any debt;
·  
issue any trust preferred securities; and
·  
purchase or redeem any of our stock.
 
Under the FRB MOU, we also agreed to take any required action to ensure compliance by Banner Bank with the Bank MOU and to submit to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for review and approval a plan to maintain minimum levels of capital at Banner Bank, as well as cash flow projections for Banner Corporation through 2011 and annually thereafter.  We are also limited and/or prohibited, in certain circumstances, in our ability to enter into contracts to pay and to make golden parachute severance and indemnification payments.  Under the FRB MOU, the Company is required to provide the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco with quarterly progress reports regarding its compliance with the provisions of the FRB MOU and Banner Corporation financial statements.

At December 31, 2011, Banner Corporation and the Banks each exceeded all current regulatory capital requirements including the requirements included in both the Bank MOU and FRB MOU.  (See Item 1, “Business–Regulation,” and Note 18 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information regarding regulatory capital requirements for Banner and the Banks).

The Bank MOU and the FRB MOU will remain in effect until stayed, modified, terminated or suspended by the FDIC and the DFI or the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, as the case may be.  If either Banner Corporation or Banner Bank were found not in compliance with its respective MOU, it could be subject to various remedies, including among others, the power to enjoin “unsafe or unsound” practices, to require affirmative action to correct any conditions resulting from any violation or practice, to direct an increase in capital, to restrict growth, to remove officers and/or directors, and to assess civil monetary penalties.  Management of Banner Corporation and Banner Bank have been taking action and implementing programs to comply with the requirements of the FRB MOU and the Bank MOU, respectively.  Although compliance will be determined by the FDIC, DFI and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, management believes that Banner Corporation and Banner Bank have complied and will continue to comply in all material respects with the provisions of each respective MOU.  Any of these regulators may determine in their sole discretion that the matters covered by the FRB MOU or the Bank MOU have not been addressed satisfactorily, or that any current or past actions, violations or deficiencies could be the subject of further regulatory enforcement actions.  Such enforcement actions could involve penalties or limitations on our business and negatively affect our ability to implement our business plan, pay dividends on our common stock or the value of our common stock, as well as our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

Our growth or future losses may require us to raise additional capital in the future, but that capital may not be available when it is needed or the cost of that capital may be very high.

We are required by federal regulatory authorities to maintain adequate levels of capital to support our operations.  We may at some point, however, need to raise additional capital to support continued growth or be required by our regulators to increase our capital resources.  Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on conditions in the capital markets at that time, which are outside our control, and on our financial condition and performance.  Accordingly, we cannot make assurances that we will be able to raise additional capital if needed on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all.  If we cannot raise additional capital when needed, our ability to further expand our operations could be materially impaired and our financial condition and liquidity could be materially and adversely affected.  In addition, if we are unable to raise additional capital when required by our bank regulators, we may be subject to adverse regulatory action.  See “We are required to comply with the terms of memoranda of understanding that we have entered into with the FDIC and DFI and the Federal Reserve and lack of compliance could result in additional regulatory actions.”

We may have continuing losses and significant variation in our quarterly results.

We reported a net loss of $2.4 million available to common shareholders during the year ended December 31, 2011 compared to a net loss of $69.7 million during the year ended December 31, 2010.  While significantly improved from last year, our operating results for the year ended December 31, 2011 continued to reflect our high, although declining, levels of delinquencies, non-performing loans, net of charge-offs and charges related to foreclosed real estate.  In addition, several other factors affecting our business can cause significant variations in our quarterly results of operations.  In particular, variations in the volume of our loan originations and sales, the differences between our cost of funds and the average interest rate earned on investments, special FDIC insurance charges, significant changes in real estate valuations and the fair valuation of our junior subordinated debentures or our investment securities portfolio could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.

If our investments in real estate are not properly valued or sufficiently reserved to cover actual losses, or if we are required to increase our valuation reserves, our earnings could be reduced.

We obtain updated valuations in the form of appraisals and broker price opinions when a loan has been foreclosed and the property taken in as real estate owned (REO) and at certain other times during the assets holding period.  Our net book value (NBV) in the loan at the time of foreclosure and thereafter is compared to the updated market value of the foreclosed property less estimated selling costs (fair value).  A charge-off is recorded for any excess in the asset’s NBV over its fair value.  If our valuation process is incorrect, or if property values decline, the fair
 
 
 
 
25

 
value of the investments in real estate may not be sufficient to recover our carrying value in such assets, resulting in the need for additional charge-offs.  Significant charge-offs to our investments in real estate could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

In addition, bank regulators periodically review our REO and may require us to recognize further charge-offs.  Any increase in our charge-offs, as required by the bank regulators, may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

The value of securities in our investment securities portfolio may be negatively affected by disruptions in securities markets.

The market for some of the investment securities held in our portfolio has become increasingly volatile in recent years.  These market conditions have affected and may further detrimentally affect the value of these securities, such as through reduced valuations because of the perception of heightened credit and liquidity risks.  There can be no assurance that the declines in market value associated with this volatility will not result in other-than-temporary impairments of these assets, which would lead to accounting charges that could have a material adverse effect on our net income and capital levels.

Decreased volumes and lower gains on sales of mortgage loans could adversely impact our non-interest income.

Our mortgage banking operations provide a significant portion of our non-interest income.  We generate mortgage revenues primarily from gains on the sale of single-family mortgage loans pursuant to programs currently offered by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and non-GSE investors.  These entities account for a substantial portion of the secondary market in residential mortgage loans.  Any future changes in these programs, our eligibility to participate in such programs, the criteria for loans to be accepted or laws that significantly affect the activity of such entities could, in turn, materially adversely affect our results of operations.  Further, in a rising or higher interest rate environment, our originations of mortgage loans may decrease, resulting in fewer loans that are available to be sold to investors.  This would result in a decrease in mortgage banking revenues and a corresponding decrease in non-interest income.  In addition, our results of operations are affected by the amount of non-interest expense associated with mortgage banking activities, such as salaries and employee benefits, occupancy, equipment and data processing expense and other operating costs.  During periods of reduced loan demand, our results of operations may be adversely affected to the extent that we are unable to reduce expenses commensurate with the decline in loan originations.

Our results of operations, liquidity and cash flows are subject to interest rate risk.

Our earnings and cash flows are largely dependent upon our net interest income.  Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, including general economic conditions and policies of various governmental and regulatory agencies and, in particular, the Federal Reserve.  Changes in monetary policy, including changes in interest rates, could influence not only the interest we receive on loans and investments and the amount of interest we pay on deposits and borrowings, but these changes could also affect (i) our ability to originate loans and obtain deposits, (ii) the fair value of our financial assets and liabilities and (iii) the average duration of our mortgage-backed securities portfolio and other interest-earning assets.  If the interest rates paid on deposits and other borrowings increase at a faster rate than the interest rates received on loans and other investments, our net interest income, and therefore earnings, could be adversely affected.  Earnings could also be adversely affected if the interest rates received on loans and other investments fall more quickly than the interest rates paid on deposits and other borrowings.  In addition, a substantial amount of our loans have adjustable interest rates.  As a result, these loans may experience a higher rate of default in a rising interest rate environment.  Further, a significant portion of our adjustable rate loans have interest rate floors below which the loan’s contractual interest rate may not adjust.  Approximately 60% of our loan portfolio was comprised of adjustable or floating-rate oans at December 31, 2011, and approximately $1.5 billion, or 73%, of those loans contained interest rate floors, below which the loans’ contractual interest rate may not adjust.   At December 31, 2011, the weighted average floor interest rate of these loans was 5.40%.  At that date, approximately $1.2 billion, or 84%, of these loans were at their floor interest rate.  The inability of our loans to adjust downward can contribute to increased income in periods of declining interest rates, although this result is subject to the risks that borrowers may refinance these loans during periods of declining interest rates.  Also, when loans are at their floors, there is a further risk that our interest income may not increase as rapidly as our cost of funds during periods of increasing interest rates which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.  

Any substantial, unexpected, prolonged change in market interest rates could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.  Further, a prolonged period of exceptionally low market interest rates, such as we are currently experiencing, could have an adverse effect on our results of operations as a result of substantially reduced asset yields.  Also, our interest rate risk modeling techniques and assumptions likely may not fully predict or capture the impact of actual interest rate changes on our balance sheet or projected operating results.

Further deterioration in the financial position of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle may result in future impairment losses on our investment in Federal Home Loan Bank stock.

At December 31, 2011, we owned $37.4 million of stock of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, or FHLB.  As a condition of membership at the FHLB, we are required to purchase and hold a certain amount of FHLB stock.  Our stock purchase requirement is based, in part, upon the outstanding principal balance of advances from the FHLB and is calculated in accordance with the Capital Plan of the FHLB.  Our FHLB stock has a par value of $100, is carried at cost, and is subject to recoverability testing.  The FHLB announced that it had a risk-based capital deficiency under the regulations of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), its primary regulator, as of December 31, 2008, and that it would suspend future dividends and the repurchase and redemption of outstanding common stock.  As a result, the FHLB has not paid a dividend since the fourth quarter of 2008.  In August 2009, under the FHFA's prompt corrective action regulations, the FHLB received a capital classification of "undercapitalized" and has subsequently remained so classified, due to, among other things, risk-based capital deficiencies as of March 31, 2009 and June 30, 2009, the deterioration in the value of its private-label mortgage-backed securities and the amount of accumulated unrealized losses stemming from that deterioration, and the amount of its retained earnings.  On October 25, 2010, the FHLB entered into a Consent Order with the FHFA.  The Consent Order required, among other matters, the FHLB meet and maintains certain minimum financial requirements.  The FHLB has communicated that with the exception of a retained earnings requirement, it is in compliance with the minimum
 
 
 
26

 
financial requirements and has continued taking the specified actions and is working toward meeting the agreed-upon milestones and timelines for completing capital management, asset composition, and other operational and risk management improvements as indicated in the Consent Order.  As a result, we have not recorded an impairment on our investment in FHLB stock.  However, further deterioration in the FHLB’s financial position may result in future impairment in the value of those securities.  We will continue to monitor the financial condition of the FHLB and its compliance with the Consent Order as it relates to, among other things, the recoverability of our investment.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will, among other things, tighten capital standards, create a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and result in new laws and regulations that are expected to increase our costs of operations.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) has had a significant impact on the bank regulatory structure for financial institutions, as well as the lending, deposit, investment, trading and operating activities of financial institutions and their holding companies.  The Dodd-Frank Act requires various federal agencies to adopt a broad range of new implementing rules and regulations, and to prepare numerous studies and reports for Congress.  Much of the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act still remains to be seen in the coming months or years, as the effective dates of the many implementing regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act are gradually phased in.

Among the many requirements in the Dodd-Frank Act for new banking regulations is a requirement for new capital regulations to be adopted within 18 months after the date of enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act.  These regulations must be at least as stringent as, and may call for higher levels of capital than, current regulations.  Generally, trust preferred securities will no longer be eligible as Tier 1 capital, but the Company’s currently outstanding trust preferred securities will be grandfathered and its currently outstanding TARP preferred securities will continue to qualify as Tier 1 capital.  In addition, the banking regulators are required to seek to make capital requirements for banks and bank holding companies countercyclical so that capital requirements increase in times of economic expansion and decrease in times of economic contraction.

Certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act are expected to have a near term impact on Banner.  For example, effective July 21, 2011, a federal prohibition on the payment of interest on demand deposits was eliminated, thus allowing businesses to have interest-bearing checking accounts.  Depending on competitive responses, this significant change to existing law could have an adverse impact on the Company’s interest expense.

In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act created a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with broad powers to supervise and enforce consumer protection laws.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has broad rule-making authority for a wide range of consumer protection laws that apply to all banks and savings institutions, including the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has examination and enforcement authority over all banks and savings institutions with more than $10 billion in assets.  Financial institutions, such as the Banks with $10 billion or less in assets, will continue to be examined for compliance with the consumer laws by their primary bank regulators.

As the Company and Banks continue to monitor developments under the Dodd-Frank Act and to assess the ultimate impact of the legislation and yet to be written implementing rules and regulations on community banks, at a minimum we expect to experience an increase in our operating and compliance costs.  Any additional changes in our regulation and oversight, in the form of new laws, rules and regulations, could make compliance more difficult or expensive or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or prospects.

Increases in deposit insurance premiums and special FDIC assessments will negatively impact our earnings.

The Dodd-Frank Act established 1.35% of total insured deposits as the minimum reserve ratio.  The FDIC has adopted a plan under which it will meet this ratio by the statutory deadline of September 30, 2020.  The Dodd-Frank Act requires the FDIC to offset the effect on institutions with assets less than $10 billion of the increase in the minimum reserve ratio to 1.35% from the former minimum of 1.15%.  The FDIC has not announced how it will implement this offset.  In addition to the statutory minimum ratio, the FDIC must set a designated reserve ratio or DRR, which may exceed the statutory minimum.  The FDIC has set 2.0 as the DRR.

As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the FDIC has adopted final regulations under which insurance premiums are based on an institution's total assets minus its tangible equity instead of its deposits.  While our FDIC insurance premiums initially will be reduced by these regulations, it is possible that our future insurance premiums will increase under the final regulations.

Failure to manage our growth may adversely affect our performance.

Our financial performance and profitability depend on our ability to manage past and possible future growth.  Future acquisitions and growth may present operating, integration and other issues that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations.

Liquidity risk could impair our ability to fund operations and jeopardize our financial condition.

Liquidity is essential to our business and the inability to obtain adequate funding may negatively affect growth and, consequently, our earnings capability and capital levels.  An inability to raise funds through deposits, borrowings, the sale of loans or investment securities and other sources could have a substantial negative effect on our liquidity.  Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance our activities on terms which are acceptable to us could be impaired by factors that affect us specifically or the financial services industry or economy in general.  Factors that could detrimentally impact our access to liquidity sources include a decrease in the level of our business activity as a result of a downturn in the Washington, Oregon or Idaho markets in which our loans are concentrated, negative operating results or adverse regulatory action against us.  Our ability to borrow could also be impaired by factors that are not specific to us, such as a disruption in the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the financial services industry in light of the recent turmoil faced by banking organizations and the continued uncertainty in credit markets.  In particular, our liquidity position could be significantly constrained if we are unable to access funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or other wholesale funding sources or if adequate financing is not available at acceptable interest rates.  Finally, if we are required to rely more heavily on more expensive
 
 
 
27

 
funding sources, our revenues may not increase proportionately to cover our costs.  In this case, our results of operations and financial condition would be negatively affected. In addition, changes in recent years in the collateralization requirements and other provisions of the Washington and Oregon public funds deposit programs have changed the economic benefit associated with accepting public funds deposits, which may affect our need to utilize alternative sources of liquidity.

We may engage in FDIC-assisted transactions, which could present additional risks to our business.

We may have opportunities to acquire the assets and liabilities of failed banks in FDIC-assisted transactions, including transactions in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Although these FDIC-assisted transactions typically provide for FDIC assistance to an acquirer to mitigate certain risks, such as sharing exposure to loan losses and providing indemnification against certain liabilities of the failed institution, we are (and would be in future transactions) subject to many of the same risks we would face in acquiring another bank in a negotiated transaction, including risks associated with maintaining customer relationships and failure to realize the anticipated acquisition benefits in the amounts and within the timeframes we expect.  In addition, because these acquisitions are structured in a manner that would not allow us the time and access to information normally associated with preparing for and evaluating a negotiated acquisition, we may face additional risks in FDIC-assisted transactions, including additional strain on management resources, management of problem loans, problems related to integration of personnel and operating systems and impact to our capital resources requiring us to raise additional capital.  We cannot provide assurance that we would be successful in overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with FDIC-assisted transactions.  Our inability to overcome these risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

New or changing tax, accounting, and regulatory rules and interpretations could significantly impact strategic initiatives, results of operations, cash flows, and financial condition.

The financial services industry is extensively regulated. Federal and state banking regulations are designed primarily to protect the deposit insurance funds and consumers, not to benefit a company's stockholders.  These regulations may sometimes impose significant limitations on operations.  The significant federal and state banking regulations that affect us are described in this report under the heading “Item 1. Business-Regulation.”  These regulations, along with the currently existing tax, accounting, securities, insurance, and monetary laws, regulations, rules, standards, policies, and interpretations control the methods by which financial institutions conduct business, implement strategic initiatives and tax compliance, and govern financial reporting and disclosures.  These laws, regulations, rules, standards, policies, and interpretations are constantly evolving and may change significantly over time.

Such changes could subject us to additional costs, limit the types of financial services and products we may offer, restrict mergers and acquisitions, investments, access to capital, the location of banking offices, and/or increase the ability of non-banks to offer competing financial services and products, among other things.  Further, regulatory changes to the rules for overdraft fees for debit transactions and interchange fees have the potential to reduce our fee income which would result in a reduction of our non-interest income.  Our failure to comply with laws, regulations or policies could result in sanctions by regulatory agencies, civil money penalties and/or reputational damage, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  While we have policies and procedures designed to prevent any such violations, there can be no assurance that such violations will not occur.

Our litigation-related costs might continue to increase.

The Banks are subject to a variety of legal proceedings that have arisen in the ordinary course of the Banks’ business.  In the current economic environment, the Banks’ involvement in litigation has increased significantly, primarily as a result of defaulted borrowers asserting claims to defeat or delay foreclosure proceedings.  There can be no assurance that our loan workout and other activities will not expose us to additional legal actions, including lender liability or environmental claims.  The Banks believe that they have meritorious defenses in legal actions where they have been named as defendants and are vigorously defending these suits.  Although management, based on discussion with litigation counsel, believes that such proceedings will not have a material adverse effect on the financial condition, liquidity or operations of the Banks, there can be no assurance that a resolution of any pending or future legal matter will not result in significant liability to the Banks nor have a material adverse impact on their financial condition, liquidity and results of operations or the Banks’ ability to meet applicable regulatory requirements.  Moreover, the expenses of any legal proceedings will adversely affect the Banks’ results of operations until they are resolved.

Because of our participation in the TARP Capital Purchase Program, we are subject to several restrictions including restrictions on compensation paid to our executives.

Our ability to attract and retain key officers and employees may be impacted by legislation and regulation affecting the financial services industry. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) became law.  The ARRA, through the implementing regulations of the U.S. Treasury, significantly expanded the executive compensation restrictions originally imposed on TARP participants, including us. Among other things, these restrictions limit our ability to pay bonuses and other incentive compensation and make severance payments.  These restrictions will continue to apply to us for as long as the preferred stock we issued pursuant to the TARP Capital Purchase Program remains outstanding.  These restrictions may negatively affect our ability to compete with financial institutions that are not subject to the same limitations.

We are dependent on key personnel and the loss of one or more of those key personnel may materially and adversely affect our prospects.

Competition for qualified employees and personnel in the banking industry is intense and there are a limited number of qualified persons with knowledge of, and experience in, the community banking industry where the Banks conduct their business.  The process of recruiting personnel with the combination of skills and attributes required to carry out our strategies is often lengthy.  In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has imposed significant limitations on executive compensation for recipients, such as us, of funds under the TARP Capital Purchase Program, which may make it more difficult for us to retain and recruit key personnel.  Our success depends to a significant degree
 
 
 
28

 
upon our ability to attract and retain qualified management, loan origination, finance, administrative, marketing and technical personnel and upon the continued contributions of our management and personnel.  In particular, our success has been and continues to be highly dependent upon the abilities of key executives, including our President, and certain other employees.  In addition, our success has been and continues to be highly dependent upon the services of our directors, many of whom are at or nearing retirement age, and we may not be able to identify and attract suitable candidates to replace such directors.

Our business may be adversely affected by an increasing prevalence of fraud and other financial crimes.

Our loans to businesses and individuals and our deposit relationships and related transactions are subject to exposure to the risk of loss due to fraud and other financial crimes.  Nationally, reported incidents of fraud and other financial crimes have increased.  We have also experienced losses due to apparent fraud and other financial crimes.  While we have policies and procedures designed to prevent such losses, there can be no assurance that such losses will not occur.

Managing reputational risk is important to attracting and maintaining customers, investors and employees.

Threats to our reputation can come from many sources, including adverse sentiment about financial institutions generally, unethical practices, employee misconduct, failure to deliver minimum standards of service or quality, compliance deficiencies, and questionable or fraudulent activities of our customers.  We have policies and procedures in place to protect our reputation and promote ethical conduct, but these policies and procedures may not be fully effective.  Negative publicity regarding our business, employees, or customers, with or without merit, may result in the loss of customers, investors and employees, costly litigation, a decline in revenues and increased governmental regulation.

We operate in a highly competitive industry and market areas.
 
The Banks face substantial competition in all phases of their operations from a variety of different competitors.  Our future growth and success will depend on our ability to compete effectively in this highly competitive environment.  To date, the Banks have been competitive by focusing on their business lines in their market areas and emphasizing the high level of service and responsiveness desired by their customers.  We compete for loans, deposits and other financial services with other commercial banks, thrifts, credit unions, brokerage houses, mutual funds, insurance companies and specialized finance companies.  Many of our competitors offer products and services which we do not offer, and many have substantially greater resources and lending limits, name recognition and market presence that benefit them in attracting business.  In addition, larger competitors may be able to price loans and deposits more aggressively than the Banks do, and newer competitors may also be more aggressive in terms of pricing loan and deposit products than we are in order to obtain a share of the market.  Some of the financial institutions and financial services organizations with which we compete are not subject to the same degree of regulation as is imposed on bank holding companies, federally insured state-chartered banks and national banks and federal savings banks.  As a result, these nonbank competitors have certain advantages over us in accessing funding and in providing various services.
 
Our ability to compete successfully depends on a number of factors including the following:

·  
the ability to develop, maintain and build upon long-term customer relationships based on top-quality service, high ethical standards   and safe, sound assets;
·  
the ability to expand our market position;
·  
the scope, relevance and pricing of products and services offered to meet customer needs and demands;
·  
the rate at which we introduce new products and services relative to our competitors;
·  
customer satisfaction with our level of service; and
·  
industry and general economic trends.

Failure to perform in any of these areas could significantly weaken our competitive position, which could adversely affect our growth and profitability, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

We rely on communications, information, operating and financial control systems technology from third-party service providers, and we may suffer an interruption in those systems.

We rely heavily on third-party service providers for much of our communications, information, operating and financial control systems technology, including our internet banking services and data processing systems.  Any failure or interruption of these services or systems or breaches in security of these systems could result in failures or interruptions in our customer relationship management, general ledger, deposit, servicing and/or loan origination systems.  The occurrence of any failures or interruptions may require us to identify alternative sources of such services, and we cannot assure you that we could negotiate terms that are as favorable to us, or could obtain services with similar functionality as found in our existing systems without the need to expend substantial resources, if at all.

If we defer payments of interest on our outstanding junior subordinated debentures or if certain defaults relating to those debentures occur, we will be prohibited from declaring or paying dividends or distributions on, and from making liquidation payments with respect to, our common stock.

As of December 31, 2011, we had outstanding $123.7 million aggregate principal amount ($49.9 million at fair value) of junior subordinated debentures issued in connection with the sale of trust preferred securities through statutory business trusts.  We have also guaranteed these trust preferred securities.  There are currently six separate series of these junior subordinated debentures outstanding, each series having been issued under a separate indenture and with a separate guarantee.  Each of these indentures, together with the related guarantee, prohibits us, subject to limited exceptions, from declaring or paying any dividends or distributions on, or redeeming, repurchasing, acquiring or making any liquidation payments with respect to, any of our capital stock at any time when (i) there shall have occurred and be continuing an event of default under such indenture or any event, act or condition that with notice or lapse of time or both would constitute an event of default under such indenture;
 
 
 
29

 
(ii) we are in default with respect to payment of any obligations under such guarantee; or (iii) we have deferred payment of interest on the junior subordinated debentures outstanding under that indenture.  In that regard, we are entitled, at our option but subject to certain conditions, to defer payments of interest on the junior subordinated debentures of each series from time to time for up to five years.

Events of default under the indenture generally consist of our failure to pay interest on the junior subordinated debt securities under certain circumstances, our failure to pay any principal of or premium on such junior subordinated debt securities when due, our failure to comply with certain covenants under the indenture, and certain events of bankruptcy, insolvency or liquidation relating to us or the Banks.  As a result of these provisions, if we were to elect to defer payments of interest on any series of junior subordinated debentures, or if any of the other events described in clause (i) or (ii) of the first paragraph of this risk factor were to occur, we would be prohibited from declaring or paying any dividends on our capital stock, from repurchasing or otherwise acquiring any such capital stock, and from making any payments to holders of capital stock in the event of our liquidation, which would likely have a material adverse effect on the market value of our capital stock.   Moreover, without notice to or consent from the holders of our capital stock, we may issue additional series of junior subordinated debentures in the future with terms similar to those of our existing junior subordinated debentures or enter into other financing agreements that limit our ability to purchase or to pay dividends or distributions on our capital stock, including our common stock.

Also, Banner Corporation may not pay interest on the junior subordinated debentures without the prior written non-objection of the Federal Reserve.  There can be no assurance that the Federal Reserve will continue to allow us to make payments on our junior subordinated debentures.

If we are unable to redeem our Series A Preferred Stock by February 2014, the cost of this capital to us will increase substantially.

The FRB MOU prohibits us from redeeming our outstanding capital stock without the prior written approval of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.  If we are unable to redeem our Series A Preferred Stock prior to February 15, 2014, the cost of this capital to us will increase substantially on that date, from 5.0% per annum (approximately $6.2 million annually) to 9.0% per annum (approximately $11.2 million annually).  Depending on our financial condition at the time, this increase in the annual dividend rate on the Series A Preferred Stock could have a material negative effect on our liquidity and ability to pay dividends to common shareholders.

Item 1B – Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2 – Properties

Banner Corporation maintains its administrative offices and main branch office, which is owned by us, in Walla Walla, Washington.  In total, as of December 31, 2011, we have 89 branch offices located in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Three of those 89 are Islanders Bank branches and 86 are Banner Bank branches.  Sixty-four branches are located in Washington, sixteen in Oregon and nine in Idaho.  Of those offices, approximately half are owned and the other half are leased facilities.  We also have seven leased locations for loan production offices spread throughout the same three-state area.  The lease terms for our branch and loan production offices are not individually material.  Lease expirations range from one to 25 years.  Administrative support offices are primarily in Washington, where we have eight facilities, of which we own four and lease four.  Additionally, we have one leased administrative support office in Idaho and own one located in Oregon.  In the opinion of management, all properties are adequately covered by insurance, are in a good state of repair and are appropriately designed for their present and future use.

Item 3 – Legal Proceedings

In the normal course of business, we have various legal proceedings and other contingent matters outstanding.  These proceedings and the associated legal claims are often contested and the outcome of individual matters is not always predictable.  These claims and counter-claims typically arise during the course of collection efforts on problem loans or with respect to action to enforce liens on properties in which we hold a security interest.  We are not a party to any pending legal proceedings that we believe would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or operations.

Item 4 – Mine Safety Disclosures
 
Not applicable.


 
30

 

PART II

Item 5 – Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Price Range of Common Stock and Dividend Information

Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “BANR.”  Shareholders of record as of December 31, 2011 totaled 1,384 based upon securities position listings furnished to us by our transfer agent.  This total does not reflect the number of persons or entities who hold stock in nominee or “street” name through various brokerage firms.  The following tables show the reported high and low sale prices of our common stock for the periods presented, adjusted for the 1-for-7 reverse stock split of June 2011, as well as the cash dividends declared per share of common stock for each of those periods.
 
Year Ended December 31, 2011
   
High
   
Low
   
Cash Dividend
Declared
First quarter
 
$
18.48
 
$
14.00
 
$
0.07
Second quarter
   
20.23
   
15.56
   
0.01
Third quarter
   
19.25
   
12.37
   
0.01
Fourth quarter
   
18.45
   
11.67
   
0.01
                   
Year Ended December 31, 2010
   
High
   
Low
   
Cash Dividend
Declared
First quarter
 
$
28.00
 
$
17.57
 
$
0.07
Second quarter
   
57.05
   
13.37
   
0.07
Third quarter
   
18.13
   
13.44
   
0.07
Fourth quarter
   
16.52
   
10.92
   
0.07

The timing and amount of cash dividends paid on our common stock depends on our earnings, capital requirements, financial condition and other relevant factors and is subject to the discretion of our board of directors.  After consideration of these factors, beginning in the third quarter of 2008, we reduced our dividend payout to preserve our capital and further reduced our dividend in the first quarter of 2009.  Our aggregate dividend payments were also reduced by our one-for-seven reverse stock split effective June 1, 2011.  There can be no assurance that we will pay dividends on our common stock in the future.
 
Under the FRB MOU, we may not declare or pay any dividends on common or preferred stock or pay interest or principal on the balance of our junior subordinated debentures without the Federal Reserve Bank’s prior written non-objection.

Our ability to pay dividends on our common stock depends primarily on dividends we receive from Banner Bank and Islanders Bank.  Under federal regulations, the dollar amount of dividends the Banks may pay depends upon their capital position and recent net income.  Generally, if a bank satisfies its regulatory capital requirements, it may make dividend payments up to the limits prescribed under state law and FDIC regulations; however, under the Bank MOU, Banner Bank is unable to pay dividends to Banner Corporation without the prior consent of the FDIC and DFI.  In addition, an institution that has converted to a stock form of ownership may not declare or pay a dividend on, or repurchase any of, its common stock if the effect thereof would cause the regulatory capital of the institution to be reduced below the amount required for the liquidation account which was established in connection with the conversion.  Banner Bank, our primary subsidiary, converted to a stock form of ownership and is therefore subject to the limitation described in the preceding sentence.  In addition, under Washington law, no bank may declare or pay any dividend in an amount greater than its retained earnings.  The Washington DFI has the power to require any bank to suspend the payment of any and all dividends.

Further, under Washington law, Banner Corporation is prohibited from paying a dividend if, after making such dividend payment, it would be unable to pay its debts as they become due in the usual course of business, or if its total liabilities, plus the amount that would be needed, in the event Banner Corporation were to be dissolved at the time of the dividend payment, to satisfy preferential rights on dissolution of holders of preferred stock ranking senior in right of payment to the capital stock on which the applicable distribution is to be made, exceed our total assets.

In addition to the foregoing regulatory considerations, there are numerous governmental requirements and regulations that affect our business activities.  A change in applicable statutes, regulations or regulatory policy may have a material effect on our business and on our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.

In addition to the legal and regulatory restrictions described above, certain contractual provisions limit our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.  Under the securities purchase agreement between us and the Treasury, pursuant to which we issued our Series A Preferred Stock and Warrant as part of the TARP Capital Purchase Program, prior to November 21, 2011 we could not, without the consent of the Treasury, (a) pay a quarterly cash dividend on our common stock of more than $0.35 per share or (b) subject to limited exceptions, redeem, repurchase or otherwise acquire shares of our common stock or preferred stock, other than the Series A Preferred Stock, or any trust preferred securities then outstanding.  In addition, under the terms of the Series A Preferred Stock, we may not pay dividends on our common stock unless we are current in our dividend payments on the Series A Preferred Stock.  Dividends on the Series A Preferred Stock are payable quarterly at a rate of 5% per annum for the first five years and a rate of 9% per annum thereafter if not redeemed prior to that time.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

We did not repurchase any of our common stock during 2011.


 
31

 

Equity Compensation Plan Information

The equity compensation plan information presented under Part III, Item 12 of this report is incorporated herein by reference.

Performance Graph.  The following graph compares the cumulative total shareholder return on Banner Corporation common stock with the cumulative total return on the NASDAQ (U.S. Stock) Index, a peer group of the SNL $1 Billion to $5 Billion Asset Bank Index and a peer group of the SNL NASDAQ Bank Index.  Total return assumes the reinvestment of all dividends.


   
Period Ending
 
Index
12/31/06
12/31/07
12/31/08
12/31/09
12/31/10
12/31/11
Banner Corporation
100.00
66.26
22.58
6.49
5.71
6.09
NASDAQ Composite
100.00
110.66
66.42
96.54
114.06
113.16
SNL Bank $1B-$5B
100.00
72.84
60.42
43.31
49.09
44.77
SNL Bank NASDAQ
100.00
78.51
57.02
46.25
54.57
48.42
             
*Assumes $100 invested in Banner Corporation common stock and each index at the close of business on December 31, 2006 and that all dividends were reinvested.  Information for the graph was provided by SNL Financial L.C. © 2012.

 
32

 

Item 6 – Selected Financial Data

The following condensed consolidated statements of operations and financial condition and selected performance ratios as of December 31, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 and for the years then ended have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements.  Certain information for prior years has been restated in accordance with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 108 which addresses how the effects of prior year uncorrected misstatements should be considered when quantifying misstatements in current year financial statements.

The information below is qualified in its entirety by the detailed information included elsewhere herein and should be read along with “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Item 8, Financial Statement and Supplementary Data.”

FINANCIAL CONDITION DATA:
 
   
December 31
 
(In thousands)
 
2011
   
2010
   
2009
   
2008
   
2007
 
                               
Total assets
  $ 4,257,312     $ 4,406,082     $ 4,722,221     $ 4,584,368     $ 4,492,658  
Loans receivable, net
    3,213,426       3,305,716       3,694,852       3,886,211       3,763,790  
Cash and securities (1)
    754,396       729,345       640,657       419,718       354,809  
Deposits
    3,475,654       3,591,198       3,865,550       3,778,850       3,620,593  
Borrowings
    212,649       267,761       414,315       318,421       372,039  
Common stockholders’ equity
    411,748       392,472       287,721       317,433       437,846  
Total stockholders’ equity
    532,450       511,472       405,128       433,348       437,846  
                                         
Shares outstanding
    17,553       16,165       3,077       2,450       2,323  
Shares outstanding excluding unearned, restricted
    shares held in ESOP
    17,519       16,130       3,042       2,416       2,289  
 
OPERATING DATA:
                                       
   
For the Years Ended December 31
 
(In thousands)
    2011       2010       2009       2008       2007  
                                         
Interest income
  $ 197,563     $ 218,082     $ 237,370     $ 273,158     $ 295,497  
Interest expense
    32,992       60,312       92,797       125,345       145,690  
Net interest income before provision for loan
   losses
    164,571       157,770       144,573       147,813       149,807  
Provision for loan losses
    35,000       70,000       109,000       62,500       5,900  
Net interest income
    129,571       87,770       35,573       85,313       143,907  
                                         
Deposit fees and other service charges
    22,962       22,009       21,394       21,540       16,573  
Mortgage banking operations
    5,154       6,370       8,893       6,045       6,270  
Other-than-temporary impairment losses
    3,000       (4,231 )     (1,511 )     --       --  
Net change in valuation of financial instruments
                                       
     carried at fair value
    (624 )     1,747       12,529       9,156       11,574  
Other operating income
    3,498       3,253       2,385       2,888       3,978  
                                         
REO operations
    22,262       26,025       7,147       2,283       189  
Goodwill write-off
    --       --       --       121,121       --  
Other operating expenses
    135,842       134,776       134,933       136,616       127,300  
                                         
Income (loss) before provision for income tax expense (benefit)
    5,457       (43,883 )     (62,817 )     (135,078 )     54,813  
Provision for income tax expense (benefit)
    --       18,013       (27,053 )     (7,085 )     17,890  
                                         
Net income (loss)
  $ 5,457     $ (61,896 )   $ (35,764 )   $ (127,993 )   $ 36,923  

PER COMMON SHARE DATA:
                             
   
At or For the Years Ended December 31
 
   
2011
   
2010
   
2009
   
2008
   
2007
 
Net income (loss):
                             
     Basic
  $ (0.15 )   $ (7.21 )   $ (16.31 )   $ (55.58 )   $ 17.71  
     Diluted
    (0.15 )     (7.21 )     (16.31 )     (55.58 )     17.43  
Common stockholders’ equity per share (2)(9)
    23.50       24.33       94.58       131.39       191.24  
Common stockholders’ tangible equity
     per share (2)(9)
    23.14       23.80       90.94       125.71       131.11  
Cash dividends
    0.10       0.28       0.28       3.50       5.39  
Dividend payout ratio (basic)
    (66.67 ) %     (3.88 )%     (1.72 )%     (6.30 )%     30.43 %
Dividend payout ratio (diluted)
    (66.67 ) %     (3.88 )%     (1.72 )%     (6.30 )%     30.92 %
 
 
 
 
33

 
 

 
OTHER DATA:
                     
 
December 31
 
2011
   
2010
 
2009
   
2008
 
2007
                       
Full time equivalent employees
1,078
   
1,060
 
1,060
   
1,095
 
1,139
Number of branches
89
   
89
 
89
   
86
 
84


KEY FINANCIAL RATIOS:
   
At or For the Years Ended December 31
 
   
2011
   
2010
   
2009
   
2008
   
2007
 
Performance Ratios:
                             
Return on average assets (3)
    0.13 %     (1.36 )%     (0.78 )%     (2.78 ) %     0.91 %
Return on average common equity (4)
    1.37       (17.19 )     (11.69 )     (30.90 )     10.07  
Average common equity to average assets
    9.31       7.90       6.71       8.99       9.06  
Interest rate spread (5)
    3.99       3.61       3.23       3.36       3.86  
Net interest margin (6)
    4.05       3.67       3.33       3.45       4.00  
Non-interest income to average assets
    0.79       0.64       0.96       0.86       0.95  
Non-interest expense to average assets
    3.69       3.53       3.12       5.65       3.15  
Efficiency ratio (7)
    79.62       86.03       75.47       138.72       67.74  
Average interest-earning assets to interest- bearing liabilities
    106.9       104.32       104.55       103.21       103.52  
                                         
Selected Financial Ratios:
                                       
Allowance for loan losses as a percent of total loans at end of period
    2.52       2.86       2.51       1.90       1.20  
Net charge-offs as a percent of average
outstanding loans during the period
    1.50       1.88       2.28       0.84       0.08  
Non-performing assets as a percent of total assets
    2.79       5.77       6.27       4.56       0.99  
Allowance for loan losses as a percent of non-performing loans (8)
110.09       64.30       44.55       40.14       108.13  
Common stockholders’ tangible equity to tangible assets (9)
9.54       8.73       5.87       6.64       6.89  
                                         
Consolidated Capital Ratios:
                                       
Total capital to risk-weighted assets
    18.07       16.92       12.73       13.11       11.72  
Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets
    16.80       15.65       11.47       11.86       10.58  
Tier 1 leverage capital to average assets
    13.44       12.24       9.62       10.32       10.04  
 
(1) Includes securities available-for-sale and held-to-maturity. 
(2) Calculated using shares outstanding excluding unearned restricted shares held in ESOP and adjusted for 1-for-7 reverse stock split. 
(3) Net income divided by average assets. 
(4) Net income divided by average common equity. 
(5) Difference between the average yield on interest-earning assets and the average cost of interest-bearing liabilities. 
(6) Net interest income before provision for loan losses as a percent of average interest-earning assets. 
(7) Other operating expenses divided by the total of net interest income before loan losses and other operating income (non-interest income). 
(8) Non-performing loans consist of nonaccrual and 90 days past due loans. 
(9)
Common stockholders’ tangible equity per share and the ratio of tangible common stockholders’ equity to tangible assets are non-GAAP financial measures.  We calculate tangible common equity by excluding the balance of goodwill, other intangible assets and preferred equity from stockholders’ equity.  We calculate tangible assets by excluding the balance of goodwill and other intangible assets from total assets.  We believe that this is consistent with the treatment by our bank regulatory agencies, which exclude goodwill and other intangible assets from the calculation of risk-based capital ratios.  In addition, excluding preferred equity, the level of which may vary from company to company, allows investors to more easily compare our capital adequacy to other companies in the industry that also use this measure.  Management believes that these non-GAAP financial measures provide information to investors that is useful in understanding the basis of our capital position.  However, these non-GAAP financial measures are supplemental and are not a substitute for any analysis based on GAAP.  Because not all companies use the same calculation of tangible common equity and tangible assets, this presentation may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures as calculated by other companies.
 
 
34

 

Item 7 – Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Management’s discussion and analysis of results of operations is intended to assist in understanding our financial condition and results of operations.  The information contained in this section should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements of this Form 10-K.

Executive Overview

We are a bank holding company incorporated in the State of Washington and own two subsidiary banks, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank. Banner Bank is a Washington-chartered commercial bank that conducts business from its main office in Walla Walla, Washington and, as of December 31, 2011, its 86 branch offices and seven loan production offices located in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Islanders Bank is also a Washington-chartered commercial bank and conducts its business from three locations in San Juan County, Washington.  As of December 31, 2011, we had total consolidated assets of $4.3 billion, total loans of $3.3 billion, total deposits of $3.5 billion and total stockholders’ equity of $532 million.

Banner Bank is a regional bank which offers a wide variety of commercial banking services and financial products to individuals, businesses and public sector entities in its primary market areas.  Islanders Bank is a community bank which offers similar banking services to individuals, businesses and public entities located in the San Juan Islands.  The Banks’ primary business is that of traditional banking institutions, accepting deposits and originating loans in locations surrounding their offices in portions of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Banner Bank is also an active participant in the secondary market, engaging in mortgage banking operations largely through the origination and sale of one- to four-family residential loans.

While Banner Corporation experienced marked improvement in 2011, including a return to profitability, weak economic conditions and ongoing strains in the financial and housing markets which accelerated during 2008 and generally continued through 2011 have created an unusually challenging environment.  This has been particularly evident in our need to provide for credit losses during this period at significantly higher levels than our historical experience and has also adversely affected our net interest income and other operating revenues and expenses.  As a result of these factors, for much of this period we have reported net operating losses.  However, reflecting substantially reduced credit costs and significant improvement in our net interest margin, in 2011 we returned to profitability.  For the year ended December 31, 2011, we had net income of $5.5 million which, after providing for the preferred stock dividend and related discount accretion, resulted in a net loss to common shareholders of $2.4 million, or ($0.15) per diluted share, compared to a net loss to common shareholders of $69.7 million, or ($7.21) per diluted share adjusted for the reverse stock split, for the year ended December 31, 2010.  Although there have been indications that economic conditions are improving, the pace of recovery has been modest and uneven and ongoing stress in the economy will likely continue to be challenging going forward.  As a result, our future operating results and financial performance will be significantly affected by the course of recovery from the recent recessionary downturn.  However, over the past two years we have significantly improved our risk profile by aggressively managing and reducing our problem assets which we believe will lead to further improved operating results in future periods.

Our provision for loan losses was $35.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to $70.0 million recorded in the prior year.  Despite the substantial decrease in 2011, the provision was significant in both years and reflects material levels of delinquencies, non-performing loans and net charge-offs, particularly for loans for the construction of one- to four-family homes and for acquisition and development of land for residential properties.  From 2008 through 2011, higher than historical provision for loan losses has been the most significant factor affecting our operating results and, while we are encouraged by the continuing reduction in our exposure to residential construction loans as well as the significant decrease in non-performing assets and the slowdown in the emergence of new problem assets, looking forward we anticipate our credit costs will remain elevated for a few more quarters.  (See Note 6 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, as well as “Asset Quality” below.)

Aside from the level of loan loss provision, our operating results depend primarily on our net interest income, which is the difference between interest income on interest-earning assets, consisting of loans and investment securities, and interest expense on interest-bearing liabilities, composed primarily of customer deposits and borrowings.  Net interest income is primarily a function of our interest rate spread, which is the difference between the yield earned on interest-earning assets and the rate paid on interest-bearing liabilities, as well as a function of the average balances of interest-earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities.  As more fully explained below, our net interest income before provision for loan losses increased $6.8 million, or 4%, for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $164.6 million, which followed an increase of $13.2 million for the prior year, primarily as a result of an expansion of our net interest spread and net interest margin due to a lower cost of funds and a reduction in the adverse impact of non-performing assets.  The trend to lower funding costs and the resulting increase in the net interest margin was driven by rapidly declining interest expense on deposits and represents an important improvement in our core operating fundamentals.  The increase in net interest income occurred despite a modest decline in average earning assets in 2011, as we continued to make changes in our mix of assets and liabilities designed to reduce our risk profile and produce more sustainable earnings.
 
Our net income also is affected by the level of our other operating income, including deposit fees and service charges, loan origination and servicing fees, and gains and losses on the sale of loans and securities, as well as our non-interest operating expenses and income tax provisions.  In addition, our net income is affected by the net change in the value of certain financial instruments carried at fair value and in certain periods by other-than-temporary impairment (OTTI) charges or recoveries.  (See Note 22 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)  For the year ended December 31, 2011, we recorded a net loss of $624,000 in fair value adjustments compared to a net gain of $1.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.  Also, for the year ended December 31, 2011, our net income included a $3.0 million recovery as the result of the full cash repayment on a security that had been written off as an OTTI charge in 2010.  By comparison, for the year ended December 31, 2010 we had net OTTI charges of $4.2 million.

Our other operating income for the year ended December 31, 2011 was $34.0 million, compared to $29.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.  Other operating income, excluding fair value and OTTI adjustments, was $31.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, essentially equal to the prior year.  Our total revenues (net interest income before the provision for loan losses plus other operating income) for
 
 
 
 
 
35

 
2011 were $198.6 million compared to $186.9 million for 2010.  Revenues, excluding fair value and OTTI adjustments, increased $6.8 million, or 4%, to $196.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to $189.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.  This growth in core revenues was the result of the meaningful increase in our net interest income and deposit fees which was partially offset by reduced revenues from mortgage banking activities.  Our other operating expenses decreased to $158.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to $160.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2010, largely as a result of decreased costs related to real estate owned and FDIC deposit insurance which were partially offset by increased compensation expenses.  While lower in 2011 than in 2010, both years’ expenses reflect significant costs associated with problem loan collection activities including professional services and valuation charges related to real estate owned, which should decline in future periods as a result of the continuing reduction in non-performing assets.  In addition, in 2010 we recorded a full valuation allowance for our net deferred tax assets, which resulted in an $18.0 million provision for income taxes for the year ended December 31, 2010, despite a pre-tax loss of $43.9 million.  By contrast, for the year ended December 31, 2011, we had pre-tax net income of $5.5 million, with the resulting provision for income taxes offset by an adjustment to the deferred tax asset valuation allowance.

As noted above, in the year ended December 31, 2011, our net income included a $624,000 net loss in the valuation of the selected financial assets and liabilities we record at fair value, as well as a $3.0 million recovery of a prior period OTTI charge.  By comparison, in the year ended December 31, 2010, our net loss included $4.2 million of net OTTI charges which were partially offset by $1.7 million of net fair value gains.  Revenues and other earnings information excluding the change in valuation of financial instruments carried at fair value and OTTI recoveries or losses represent non-GAAP financial measures.  Management has presented these non-GAAP financial measures in this discussion and analysis because it believes that they provide useful and comparative information to assess trends in our core operations.  Where applicable, we have also presented comparable earnings information using GAAP financial measures.  For a reconciliation of these non-GAAP measures, see the tables below, as well as the discussion related to tangible common stockholders’ equity per share and the ratio of common stockholders’ tangible equity to tangible assets in footnote number 9 to the Key Financial Ratios tables on page 34.  These non-GAAP financial measures are supplemental and are not a substitute for any analysis based on GAAP.  Because not all companies use the same calculations, our presentation may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures as calculated by other companies.  See “Comparison of Results of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010” for more detailed information about our financial performance.

The following tables set forth reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures discussed in this report (dollars in thousands):

   
For the Years Ended December 31
 
   
2011
   
2010
   
2009
 
                   
Total other operating income
  $ 33,990     $ 29,148     $ 43,690  
Exclude other-than-temporary impairment losses (recoveries)
    (3,000 )     4,231       1,511  
Exclude change in valuation of financial instruments carried at fair value
    624       (1,747 )     (12,529 )
                         
Total other operating income, excluding fair value adjustments and OTTI
  $ 31,614     $ 31,632     $ 32,672  
                         
Net interest income before provision for loan losses
  $ 164,571     $ 157,770     $ 144,573  
Total other operating income
    33,990       29,148       43,690  
Total revenue
    198,561       186,918       188,263  
                         
Exclude other-than-temporary impairment losses (recoveries)
    (3,000 )     4,231       1,511  
Exclude change in valuation of financial instruments carried at fair value
    624       (1,747 )     (12,529 )
                         
Total revenue, excluding fair value adjustments and OTTI
  $ 196,185     $ 189,402     $ 177,245  
                         
Net income (loss)
  $ 5,457     $ (61,896 )   $ (35,764 )
Exclude other-than-temporary impairment losses
    (3,000 )     4,231       1,511  
Exclude change in valuation of financial instruments carried at fair value
    624       (1,747 )     (12,529 )
Exclude related tax expense
    855       52       3,966  
                         
Total earnings (loss), excluding fair adjustments and OTTI, net of related tax effects
  $ 3,936     $ (59,360 )   $ (42,816 )


 
36

 


   
December 31
 
   
2011
   
2010
   
2009
 
                   
Stockholders’ equity
  $ 532,450     $ 511,472     $ 405,128  
Other intangible assets, net
    6,331       8,609       11,070  
Tangible equity
    526,119       502,863       394,058  
                         
Preferred equity
    120,702       119,000       117,407  
                         
Tangible common stockholders’ equity
  $ 405,417     $ 383,863     $ 276,651  
                         
Total assets
  $ 4,257,312     $ 4,406,082     $ 4,722,221  
Other intangible assets, net
    6,331       8,609       11,070  
                         
Tangible assets
  $ 4,250,981     $ 4,397,473     $ 4,711,151  
                         
Tangible common stockholders’ equity to tangible assets
    9.52 %     8.73 %     5.87 %

We offer a wide range of loan products to meet the demands of our customers.  Our lending activities are primarily directed toward the origination of real estate and commercial loans.  Until recent periods, real estate lending activities were significantly focused on residential construction and first mortgages on owner-occupied, one- to four-family residential properties; however, over the past four years our origination of construction and land development loans has declined materially and the proportion of the portfolio invested in these types of loans has declined substantially.  Our residential mortgage loan originations also decreased during this four-year cycle, although less significantly than the decline in construction and land development lending as exceptionally low interest rates supported demand for loans to refinance existing debt as well as loans to finance home purchases.  Despite modest demand, our residential mortgage loan portfolio has increased in amount and as a proportion of our total loan portfolio during this cycle, although residential mortgage loan balances have declined for each of the past two years.  Our real estate lending activities have also included the origination of multifamily and commercial real estate loans, including owner-occupied loans for our business customers as well as financing for investor-owned properties.  Our commercial business lending has been directed toward meeting the credit and related deposit needs of various small- to medium-sized business and agri-business borrowers operating in our primary market areas.  Reflecting the recessionary economy, in recent periods demand for these types of commercial business loans has been modest and total outstanding balances have declined from peak levels at June 30, 2008; however, originations of commercial loans were substantially higher in 2011 than in the previous three years and outstanding balances increased modestly for the year.  Our consumer loan activity is primarily directed at meeting demand from our existing deposit customers and, while we have increased our emphasis on consumer lending in recent years, demand for consumer loans also has been modest during this period of economic weakness as many consumers have been focused on reducing their personal debt.  At December 31, 2011, our net loan portfolio totaled $3.213 billion compared to $3.306 billion at December 31, 2010.

Deposits, customer retail repurchase agreements and loan repayments are the major sources of our funds for lending and other investment purposes.  We compete with other financial institutions and financial intermediaries in attracting deposits and we generally attract deposits within our primary market areas.  Much of the focus of our branch expansion and marketing efforts have been directed toward attracting additional deposit customer relationships and balances.  The long-term success of our deposit gathering activities is reflected not only in the growth of deposit balances, but also in increases in the level of deposit fees, service charges and other payment processing revenues compared to periods prior to that expansion.  For the two years ended December 31, 2011, our total deposit balances decreased largely as a result of our decision to significantly reduce our exposure to brokered deposits and other high cost certificates of deposit.  Over the same period we have had a meaningful increase of transaction and savings accounts (checking, savings and money market accounts) and related fees and payment processing revenues, as we have remained focused on growing these core deposits.  Total deposits at December 31, 2011 decreased $116 million to $3.476 billion, compared to $3.591 billion a year earlier.  However, over that period certificates of deposit decreased $307 million, while core deposits increased $191 million, with particularly strong growth in non-interest-bearing checking accounts.

Critical Accounting Policies

In the opinion of management, the accompanying Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition and related Consolidated Statements of Operations, Comprehensive Income, Changes in Stockholders’ Equity and Cash Flows reflect all adjustments (which include reclassification and normal recurring adjustments) that are necessary for a fair presentation in conformity with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect amounts reported in the financial statements.

Various elements of our accounting policies, by their nature, are inherently subject to estimation techniques, valuation assumptions and other subjective assessments.  In particular, management has identified several accounting policies that, due to the judgments, estimates and assumptions inherent in those policies, are critical to an understanding of our financial statements.  These policies relate to (i) the methodology for the recognition of interest income, (ii) determination of the provision and allowance for loan and lease losses, (iii) the valuation of financial assets and liabilities recorded at fair value, including OTTI losses, (iv) the valuation of intangibles, core deposit intangibles and mortgage servicing rights, (v) the valuation of real estate held for sale and (vi) the valuation of or recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities.  These policies and judgments, estimates and assumptions are described in greater detail below.  Management believes that the judgments, estimates and assumptions used in the preparation of the financial statements are appropriate based on the factual circumstances at the time.  However, given the sensitivity of the financial statements to these critical accounting policies, the use of other judgments, estimates and assumptions could result in material differences in our results of operations or financial condition.  Further, subsequent changes in economic or market conditions
 
 
 
 
37

 
could have a material impact on these estimates and our financial condition and operating results in future periods.  There have been no significant changes in our application of accounting policies since December 31, 2010.  For additional information concerning critical accounting policies, see Notes 1, 6, 13, 21 and 22 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and the following:

Interest Income:   (Notes 1 & 6)  Interest on loans and securities is accrued as earned unless management doubts the collectability of the asset or the unpaid interest.  Interest accruals on loans are generally discontinued when loans become 90 days past due for payment of interest and the loans are then placed on nonaccrual status.  All previously accrued but uncollected interest is deducted from interest income upon transfer to nonaccrual status.  For any future payments collected, interest income is recognized only upon management’s assessment that there is a strong likelihood that the full amount of a loan will be repaid or recovered.  A loan may be put on nonaccrual status sooner than this policy would dictate if, in management’s judgment, the interest may be uncollectable.  While less common, similar interest reversal and nonaccrual treatment is applied to investment securities if their ultimate collectability becomes questionable.

Provision and Allowance for Loan Losses:  (Notes 1 & 6)  The provision for loan losses reflects the amount required to maintain the allowance for losses at an appropriate level based upon management’s evaluation of the adequacy of general and specific loss reserves.  We maintain an allowance for loan losses consistent in all material respects with the GAAP guidelines outlined in ASC 450, Contingencies.  We have established systematic methodologies for the determination of the adequacy of our allowance for loan losses.  The methodologies are set forth in a formal policy and take into consideration the need for an overall general valuation allowance as well as specific allowances that are tied to individual problem loans.  We increase our allowance for loan losses by charging provisions for probable loan losses against our income and value impaired loans consistent with the accounting guidelines outlined in ASC 310, Receivables.

The allowance for losses on loans is maintained at a level sufficient to provide for probable losses based on evaluating known and inherent risks in the loan portfolio and upon our continuing analysis of the factors underlying the quality of the loan portfolio.  These factors include, among others, changes in the size and composition of the loan portfolio, delinquency rates, actual loan loss experience, current and anticipated economic conditions, detailed analysis of individual loans for which full collectability may not be assured, and determination of the existence and realizable value of the collateral and guarantees securing the loans.  Realized losses related to specific assets are applied as a reduction of the carrying value of the assets and charged immediately against the allowance for loan loss reserve.  Recoveries on previously charged off loans are credited to the allowance.  The reserve is based upon factors and trends identified by us at the time financial statements are prepared.  Although we use the best information available, future adjustments to the allowance may be necessary due to economic, operating, regulatory and other conditions beyond our control.  The adequacy of general and specific reserves is based on our continuing evaluation of the pertinent factors underlying the quality of the loan portfolio, including changes in the size and composition of the loan portfolio, delinquency rates, actual loan loss experience and current economic conditions, as well as individual review of certain large balance loans.  Large groups of smaller-balance homogeneous loans are collectively evaluated for impairment.  Loans that are collectively evaluated for impairment include residential real estate and consumer loans and, as appropriate, smaller balance non-homogeneous loans.  Larger balance non-homogeneous residential construction and land, commercial real estate, commercial business loans and unsecured loans are individually evaluated for impairment.  Loans are considered impaired when, based on current information and events, we determine that it is probable that we will be unable to collect all amounts due according to the contractual terms of the loan agreement.  Factors involved in determining impairment include, but are not limited to, the financial condition of the borrower, the value of the underlying collateral and the current status of the economy.  Impaired loans are measured based on the present value of expected future cash flows discounted at the loan’s effective interest rate or, as a practical expedient, at the loan’s observable market price or the fair value of collateral if the loan is collateral dependent.  Subsequent changes in the value of impaired loans are included within the provision for loan losses in the same manner in which impairment initially was recognized or as a reduction in the provision that would otherwise be reported.

Our methodology for assessing the appropriateness of the allowance consists of several key elements, which include specific allowances, an allocated formula allowance and an unallocated allowance.  Losses on specific loans are provided for when the losses are probable and estimable.  General loan loss reserves are established to provide for inherent loan portfolio risks not specifically provided for.  The level of general reserves is based on analysis of potential exposures existing in our loan portfolio including evaluation of historical trends, current market conditions and other relevant factors identified by us at the time the financial statements are prepared.  The formula allowance is calculated by applying loss factors to outstanding loans, excluding those loans that are subject to individual analysis for specific allowances.  Loss factors are based on our historical loss experience adjusted for significant environmental considerations, including the experience of other banking organizations, which in our judgment affect the collectability of the portfolio as of the evaluation date.  The unallocated allowance is based upon our evaluation of various factors that are not directly measured in the determination of the formula and specific allowances.  This methodology may result in losses or recoveries differing significantly from those provided in the Consolidated Financial Statements.

While we believe the estimates and assumptions used in our determination of the adequacy of the allowance are reasonable, there can be no assurance that such estimates and assumptions will not be proven incorrect in the future, or that the actual amount of future provisions will not exceed the amount of past provisions or that any increased provisions that may be required will not adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.  In addition, the determination of the amount of the Banks’ allowance for loan losses is subject to review by bank regulators as part of the routine examination process, which may result in the adjustment of reserves based upon their judgment of information available to them at the time of their examination.

Fair Value Accounting and Measurement: (Notes 1 and 22)  We use fair value measurements to record fair value adjustments to certain financial assets and liabilities and to determine fair value disclosures.  We include in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements information about the extent to which fair value is used to measure financial assets and liabilities, the valuation methodologies used and the impact on our results of operations and financial condition.  Additionally, for financial instruments not recorded at fair value we disclose, where appropriate, our estimate of their fair value.  For more information regarding fair value accounting, please refer to Note 22 in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Other Intangible Assets:  (Notes 1 and 21)  Other intangible assets consists primarily of core deposit intangibles (CDI), which are amounts recorded in business combinations or deposit purchase transactions related to the value of transaction-related deposits and the value of the
 
 
 
 
38

 
customer relationships associated with the deposits.  Core deposit intangibles are being amortized on an accelerated basis over a weighted average estimated useful life of eight years.  These assets are reviewed at least annually for events or circumstances that could impact their recoverability.  These events could include loss of the underlying core deposits, increased competition or adverse changes in the economy.  To the extent other identifiable intangible assets are deemed unrecoverable, impairment losses are recorded in other non-interest expense to reduce the carrying amount of the assets.

Real Estate Held for Sale:  (Notes 1 and 7)  Property acquired by foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure is recorded at the lower of the estimated fair value of the property, less expected selling costs, or the carrying value of the defaulted loan.  Development and improvement costs relating to the property may be capitalized, while other holding costs are expensed.  The carrying value of the property is periodically evaluated by management and, if necessary, allowances are established to reduce the carrying value to net realizable value.  Gains or losses at the time the property is sold are charged or credited to operations in the period in which they are realized.  The amounts the Banks will ultimately recover from real estate held for sale may differ substantially from the carrying value of the assets because of market factors beyond the Banks’ control or because of changes in the Banks’ strategies for recovering the investment.

Income Taxes and Deferred Taxes:  (Note 13)  The Company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries file consolidated U.S. federal income tax returns, as well as state income tax returns in Oregon and Idaho.  Income taxes are accounted for using the asset and liability method.  Under this method a deferred tax asset or liability is determined based on the enacted tax rates which are expected to be in effect when the differences between the financial statement carrying amounts and tax basis of existing assets and liabilities are expected to be reported in the Company’s income tax returns.  The effect on deferred taxes of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.  Under GAAP (ASC 740), a valuation allowance is required to be recognized if it is “more likely than not” that all or a portion of our deferred tax assets will not be realized.

Accounting Standards Recently Adopted or Issued

Accounting Standards Issued But Not Yet Adopted

In April 2011, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2011-03, Reconsideration of Effective Control for Repurchase Agreements.  This guidance is effective for the first interim or annual period beginning on or after December 15, 2011.  The guidance will be applied prospectively to transactions or modifications of existing transactions that occur on or after the effective date.  Early adoption is not permitted.  The amendments remove the transferor’s ability criterion from the consideration of effective control for repurchase and other agreements that both entitle and obligate the transferor to repurchase or redeem financial assets before their maturity.  The adoption of this guidance is not expected to have a material effect on the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements.

In June 2011, FASB issued ASU No. 2011-05, Presentation of Comprehensive Income.  The amendments in this Update should be applied retrospectively.  The amendments are effective for fiscal years and interim periods within those years, beginning after December 15, 2011.  Early adoption is permitted.  The FASB decided to eliminate the option to present components of other comprehensive income as part of the statement of changes in stockholders’ equity.  The amendments require that all non-owner changes in stockholders’ equity be presented either in a single continuous statement of comprehensive income or in two separate but consecutive statements.  Additionally the amendments require the consecutive presentation of the statement of net income and other comprehensive income and require the presentation of reclassification adjustments on the face of the financial statements from other comprehensive income to net income.  See also ASU No. 2011-12.  The adoption of this guidance is not expected to have a material effect on the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements.

In December 2011, FASB issued ASU No. 2011-12, Deferral of the Effective Date for Amendments to the Presentation of Reclassifications of Items Out of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income  in ASU No. 2011-05.  This ASU was made to allow the Board time to redeliberate whether to present on the face of the financial statements the effects of reclassifications out of accumulated other comprehensive income on the components of net income and other comprehensive income for all periods presented.  The amendments in this Update are effective at the same time as the amendments in Update 2011-05 so that entities will not be required to comply with the presentation requirements in Update 2011-05 until this ASU becomes effective.

Accounting Standards Recently Adopted

In July 2010, FASB issued ASU No. 2010-20, Disclosures about the Credit Quality of Financing Receivables and the Allowance for Credit Losses.  ASU No. 2010-20 provides enhanced disclosures related to the credit quality of financing receivables and the allowance for credit losses, and provides that new and existing disclosures should be disaggregated based on how an entity develops its allowance for credit losses and how it manages credit exposures.  Under the provisions of this ASU, additional disclosures required for financing receivables include information regarding the aging of past due receivables, credit quality indicators, and modifications of financing receivables.  The provisions of ASU No. 2010-20 are effective for periods ending after December 15, 2010, with the exception of the amendments to the rollforward of the allowance for credit losses and the disclosures about modifications which are effective for periods beginning after December 15, 2010.  Comparative disclosures are required only for periods ending subsequent to initial adoption.  This ASU was implemented for the period ending December 31, 2010 and did not have a material effect on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

In January 2010, FASB issued ASU No. 2010-06, Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures (Topic 820)—Improving Disclosures about Fair Value Measurements.  ASU No. 2010-06 requires (i) fair value disclosures by each class of assets and liabilities (generally a subset within a line item as presented in the statement of financial position) rather than major category, (ii) for items measured at fair value on a recurring basis, the amounts of significant transfers between Levels 1 and 2, and transfers into and out of Level 3, and the reasons for those transfers, including separate discussion related to the transfers into each level apart from transfers out of each level, and (iii) gross presentation of the amounts of purchases, sales, issuances, and settlements in the Level 3 recurring measurement reconciliation.
 
 
 
 
39

 
Additionally, the ASU clarifies that a description of the valuation techniques(s) and inputs used to measure fair values is required for both recurring and nonrecurring fair value measurements.  Also, if a valuation technique has changed, entities should disclose that change and the reason for the change.  Disclosures other than the gross presentation changes in the Level 3 reconciliation are effective for the first reporting period beginning after December 15, 2009.  The requirement to present the Level 3 activity of purchases, sales, issuances, and settlements on a gross basis will be effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2010.  The implementation of this ASU did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

Comparison of Financial Condition at December 31, 2011 and 2010

General. Total assets decreased $149 million, or 3%, to $4.257 billion at December 31, 2011, from $4.406 billion at December 31, 2010.  Net loans receivable (gross loans less loans in process, deferred fees and discounts, and allowance for loan losses) decreased $92 million, or 3%, to $3.213 billion at December 31, 2011, from $3.306 billion at December 31, 2010.  The contraction in net loans was largely due to decreases of $93 million in all categories of construction and land and land development loans and $40 million in one- to four-family loans, which were partially offset by increases in commercial real estate and commercial and agricultural business loans as well as a decrease in the allowance for loan losses.  Further, the decrease in aggregate loan balances for the year reflects our continued efforts to reduce our exposure to certain weaker credits as we aggressively manage problem assets.  Importantly, the decrease in total assets also reflects a nearly $58 million decrease in real estate owned.  We continue to maintain a significant, although meaningfully decreased, investment in construction and land loans; however, new originations of these types of loans during the past four years has been restrained by unfavorable market conditions.  As a result of the much slower pace of new originations and continuing payoffs on existing loans, transfers to REO and charge-offs, loans to finance the construction of one- to four-family residential real estate, which totaled $144 million at December 31, 2011, have decreased by $511 million, or 78%, since their peak quarter-end balance of $655 million at June 30, 2007.  In addition, land and land development loans (both residential and commercial) have decreased by $389 million, or 77%, compared to their peak quarter-end balances at March 31, 2008.  Given the current housing and economic environment, we anticipate that the aggregate total of construction and land loan balances will continue to decline for the foreseeable future, although the pace of decline will be more modest as originations of new construction loans likely will increase somewhat as inventories of completed homes have been reduced and the build out of existing development projects will be cautiously continued.  While demand for consumer loans remained weak and utilization of existing credit lines for consumer and commercial borrowers was low, our production of new commercial real estate and commercial and agricultural business loans was significantly increased in 2011 compared to recent years resulting in approximately $55 million of growth in the balances for these loan categories.

Securities increased to $622 million from $368 million at December 31, 2010; however, the aggregate total of securities and interest-bearing deposits was nearly unchanged at $692 million at December 31, 2011, compared to $690 million a year earlier.  The increase in the securities holdings reflects a modest extension of the expected duration of this aggregate total investment position designed to increase the yield relative to the rate paid on interest-bearing deposits.  During the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, net fair value adjustments for trading and available-for-sale securities had only a modest effect on their carrying values as the investment market experienced reduced volatility as compared to 2008 and 2009 when relatively large fair value adjustments were recorded.  At December 31, 2011, the fair value of our trading securities was $32 million less than their amortized cost.  The reduction reflected in the fair value of these securities compared to their amortized cost primarily was centered in single-issuer trust preferred securities and collateralized debt obligations secured by pools of trust preferred securities issued by bank holding companies and insurance companies, as well as a difference of $7 million in the value of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac common and preferred equity securities, offset by small gains in all other trading securities.  (See Note 4 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)  Our available-for-sale portfolio grew significantly during the year, as purchases of primarily U.S. Government and agency obligations exceeded repayment, sales and  maturities by $266 million.  Periodically, we also acquire securities (primarily municipal bonds) which are designated as held-to-maturity and this portfolio increased by $3 million from the prior year-end balances.

REO decreased $58 million, to $43 million at December 31, 2011 compared to $101 million at December 31, 2010.  The December 31, 2011 total included $25 million in land or land development projects, $3 million in commercial real estate and $15 million in single-family homes and related residential construction.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, we transferred $53 million of loans into REO, capitalized additional investments of $4 million in acquired properties, disposed of approximately $99 million of properties and recognized $16 million of charges against current earnings for valuation adjustments or losses related to sold or currently owned properties.  Further declines in the value of residential real estate, including in particular building lots and land development projects for residential use, had a material adverse impact on the carrying value of REO and our results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2011. (See “Asset Quality” discussion below.)

Deposits decreased $115 million, or 3%, to $3.476 billion at December 31, 2011, from $3.591 billion at December 31, 2010.  However, non-interest-bearing deposits increased by $177 million, or 29%, to $778 million from $600 million, and interest-bearing transaction and savings accounts increased by $14 million, or 1%, to $1.448 billion at December 31, 2011 from $1.433 billion at December 31, 2010.  More than offsetting these increases, certificates of deposit decreased $307 million, or 20%, to $1.250 billion at December 31, 2011 from $1.557 billion at December 31, 2010.  The growth in non-interest-bearing deposits and other transaction and savings accounts was particularly notable and significantly contributed to our improved net interest margin and deposit fee revenues.  A portion of the decrease in certificates of deposit was in brokered certificates and public funds, which decreased $54 million and $15 million, respectively, from the prior year-end balances; however, much of the decrease reflects management’s pricing decisions designed to allow maturing higher priced retail certificates to migrate off the balance sheet or into core deposits.

FHLB advances decreased $33 million, to $11 million at December 31, 2011 from $44 million at December 31, 2010, while other borrowings decreased $24 million to $152 million at December 31, 2011.  The decrease in FHLB advances reflects maturities of advances and no additional borrowing as a part of our short-term cash management activities.  Included in other borrowings were $50 million of qualifying senior bank notes covered by the TLGP with a fixed interest rate of 2.625% and a maturity date of March 31, 2012.  This debt, which does not require any collateralization, was issued in March 2009 to strengthen our overall liquidity position as we adjusted to a lower level of public funds deposits.  Other borrowings at December 31, 2010 also included $102 million of retail repurchase agreements that are primarily related to customer cash management accounts.  Retail repurchase agreement balances decreased during the year as many customers elected to keep more of their funds
 
 
 
 
40

 
in the related non-interest-bearing transaction accounts to benefit from the unlimited FDIC deposit insurance available to those types of accounts and to receive earnings credit to offset the service fees associated with those accounts.  No additional junior subordinated debentures were issued or matured during the year and the fair value of these instruments modestly increased to $50 million.  For more information, see Notes 10, 11 and 12 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Total stockholders’ equity increased $21 million to $532 million at December 31, 2011 compared to $511 million at December 31, 2010, primarily due to stock issuances through our Dividend Reinvestment and Stock Purchase and Sale Plan (DRIP) in 2011.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, we issued 1,375,185 additional shares of common stock for $22 million at an average net per share price of $15.77 through our DRIP.  The increase in paid in capital from stock issuances, as well as additions to retained earnings as a result of net income from operations and changes in accumulated other comprehensive income, were partially offset by the accrual and payment of preferred and common stock dividends, resulting in the net $21 million increase in stockholders’ equity.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, we did not repurchase any shares of Banner Corporation common stock.

Investments: At December 31, 2011, our consolidated investment portfolio totaled $622 million and consisted principally of U.S. Government and agency obligations, mortgage-backed and mortgage-related securities, municipal bonds, and corporate debt obligations.  From time to time, our investment levels may be increased or decreased depending upon yields available on investment alternatives and management’s projections as to the demand for funds to be used in our loan origination, deposit and other activities.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, our aggregate investment in securities increased $254 million.  Holdings of U.S. Government and agency obligations increased $202 million, mortgage-backed securities increased $43 million and municipal bonds increased $25 million.  Partially offsetting these increases was a net decrease in corporate bonds of $16 million.

U.S. Government and Agency Obligations:  Our portfolio of U.S. Government and agency obligations had a carrying value of $342 million ($341 million at amortized cost, with a fair value adjustment of $1 million) at December 31, 2011, a weighted average contractual maturity of 3.8 years and a weighted average coupon rate of 0.91%.  Most of the U.S. Government and agency obligations we own include call features which allow the issuing agency the right to call the securities at various dates prior to the final maturity.  Certain agency obligations also include step-up provisions which provide for periodic increases in the coupon rate if the call options are not exercised.

Mortgage-Backed Obligations:  At December 31, 2011, our mortgage-backed and mortgage-related securities had a carrying value of $130 million ($125 million at amortized cost, with a fair value adjustment of $5 million).  The weighted average coupon rate of these securities was 2.81% and the weighted average contractual maturity was 12.8 years, although we receive principal payments on these securities each period resulting in a much shorter expected average life.  As of December 31, 2011, 94% of the mortgage-backed and mortgage-related securities pay interest at a fixed rate and 6% pay at an adjustable-interest rate.  We do not believe that any of our mortgage-backed obligations had a meaningful exposure to sub-prime mortgages.

Municipal Bonds:  The carrying value of our tax-exempt bonds at December 31, 2011 was $89 million (also with an amortized cost of $89 million), and was comprised of general obligation bonds (i.e., backed by the general credit of the issuer) and revenue bonds (i.e., backed by revenues from the specific project being financed) issued by cities and counties and various housing authorities, and hospital, school, water and sanitation districts located in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, our primary service area.  We also had taxable bonds in our municipal bond portfolio, which at December 31, 2011 had a carrying value of $18 million (also $18 million at amortized cost).  Many of our qualifying municipal bonds are not rated by a nationally recognized credit rating agency due to the smaller size of the total issuance and a portion of these bonds have been acquired through direct private placement by the issuers.  We have not experienced any defaults or payment deferrals on our municipal bonds.  At December 31, 2011, our municipal bond portfolio, including taxable and tax-exempt, had a weighted average maturity of approximately 9.3 years and an average coupon rate of 3.78%.

Corporate Bonds:  Our corporate bond portfolio, which had a carrying value of $43 million ($71 million at amortized cost) at December 31, 2011, was comprised principally of long-term fixed- and adjustable-rate capital securities issued by financial institutions, including collateralized debt obligations secured by pooled trust preferred securities.  The market for the capital securities deteriorated significantly in 2008 and 2009 and in our opinion is not currently functioning in a meaningful manner.  As a result, the fair value estimates for many of these securities are more subjective than in periods before 2008.  Nonetheless, it is apparent that the values have declined appreciably, which is reflected in our financial statements and results of operations.  In addition to the disruption in the market for these securities, the decline in value also reflects deterioration in the financial condition of some of the issuing financial institutions and payment deferrals and defaults by certain institutions. (See “Critical Accounting Policies” above and Note 22 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)  At December 31, 2011, the portfolio had a weighted average maturity of 20.9 years and a weighted average coupon rate of 2.69%.

The following tables set forth certain information regarding carrying values and percentage of total carrying values of our portfolio of securities—trading and securities—available-for-sale, both carried at estimated fair market value, and securities—held-to-maturity, carried at amortized cost as of December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009 (dollars in thousands):




 
41

 

Table 1: Securities—Trading
   
2011
   
2010
   
2009
 
   
Carrying
Value
   
Percent of
Total
   
Carrying
Value
   
Percent of
Total
   
Carrying
Value
   
Percent of
Total
 
                                     
U.S. Government and agency obligations
  $ 2,635       3.3 %   $ 4,379       4.6 %   $ 41,255       28.0 %
                                                 
Municipal bonds:
                                               
Taxable
    420       0.5       693       0.7       1,034       0.7  
Tax exempt
    5,542       6.9       5,705       6.0       6,117       4.2  
Total municipal bonds
    5,962       7.4       6,398       6.7       7,151       4.9  
                                                 
Corporate bonds
    35,055       43.4       34,724       36.4       35,017       23.8  
                                                 
Mortgage-backed or related securities:
                                               
FHLMC
    11,246       13.9       17,347       18.2       25,837       17.6  
FNMA
    25,427       31.5       32,341       33.9       37,549       25.5  
Total mortgage-backed
     or related securities
    36,673       45.4       49,688       52.1       63,386       43.1  
                                                 
Equity securities
    402       0.5       190       0.2       342       0.2  
                                                 
Total securities—trading
  $ 80,727       100.0 %   $ 95,379       100.0 %   $ 147,151       100.0 %

Table 2: Securities—Available-for-Sale
   
2011
   
2010
   
2009
 
   
Carrying
Value
   
Percent of
Total
   
Carrying
Value
   
Percent of
Total
   
Carrying
Value
   
Percent of
Total
 
                                     
U.S. Government and agency obligations
  $ 338,971       72.8 %   $ 135,428       67.6 %   $ 53,112       55.5 %
                                                 
Municipal bonds:
                                               
Taxable
    10,581       2.3       775       0.4       --       --  
Tax exempt
    16,729       3.6       4,621       2.3       --       --  
Total municipal bonds
    27,310       5.9       5,396       2.7       --       --  
                                                 
Corporate bonds
    6,260       1.3       22,522       11.2       --       --  
                                                 
Mortgage-backed or related securities:
                                               
FHLMC collateralized mortgage
     obligations
    30,755       6.6       9,605       4.8       18,457       19.3  
                                                 
FNMA collateralized mortgage
                                               
     obligations
    41,092       8.8       --       0.0       --