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ESSA Bancorp, Inc. Announces Fiscal Second Quarter 2014 Financial Results

STROUDSBURG, PA -- (Marketwired) -- 04/23/14 -- ESSA Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: ESSA), the holding Company for ESSA Bank & Trust, a $1.58 billion asset institution providing full service retail and commercial banking, financial and investment services, today announced results for fiscal second quarter and fiscal first half, 2014.

The Company reported net income of $1.5 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the three months ended March 31, 2014, compared with net income of $2.0 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, for the three months ended March 31, 2013. For the six months ended March 31, 2014, ESSA reported net income of $3.5 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, compared to net income of $4.9 million, or $0.41 per diluted share, for the corresponding 2013 period. Results for the three and six month periods ended March 31, 2014 reflect declines in the accretion of the fair market adjustments that resulted from the Company's acquisition of First Star Bancorp along with declines in gains from the sales of investments and loans compared to the comparable periods in 2013.

The Company's first half 2014 results included $346,000 in merger-related costs. Following the close of the fiscal second quarter, the Company completed its acquisition of Franklin Security Bancorp on April 4, 2014, adding approximately $219.5 million in total assets, $155.5 million in loans and $163.1 million in deposits not reflected in the Company's balance sheet totals as of March 31, 2014.

Gary S. Olson, President and CEO, commented: "We are excited to continue building the ESSA Bank & Trust franchise with this latest acquisition. Not only does the merger open the door to new geographical markets -- it broadens and diversifies our revenue mix and growth opportunities, particularly with Franklin's strength in government lending and indirect auto lending. Additionally, we have the opportunity to build the commercial banking business in the markets served by Franklin, and introduce ESSA's mortgage lending capabilities to serve the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton markets."

The Company's pre-tax core earnings, excluding the accretion of the fair market adjustments that resulted from the Company's acquisition of First Star Bancorp, gains on the sale of securities and loans, and the Franklin merger related expenses, were $3.9 million in fiscal first half 2014 compared with $3.7 million in fiscal first half 2013. In fiscal second quarter 2014, core earnings were $1.7 million compared with $1.3 million in fiscal second quarter 2013.

"We believe our core operating results reflect a growth strategy that is consistently adding value for the Company and its shareholders," Olson explained. "Total stockholders' equity increased to $167.7 million at March 31, 2014 compared to $166.5 million at the beginning of our fiscal year, and the Company's tangible book value was $13.08 per share at March 31, 2014, up from $12.73 a year ago. We also enhanced shareholder value as our board authorized an increased cash dividend on common shares in the second quarter, and we utilized a portion of our capital to repurchase shares." During the three months ended March 31, 2014, the Company repurchased 41,625 shares at an average cost of $11.39 per share, and during the three months ended December 31, 2013, repurchased 17,600 shares at an average cost of $11.14 per share for a total of 59,225 shares repurchased during the fiscal first half 2014.

"In our core market, we continue our focus on executing our business plan, while exploring additional opportunities that we believe may facilitate continued growth of the franchise and drive accelerating value for shareholders over time," Olson explained.

Income Statement Review

Net interest income decreased $946,000, or 9.57%, to $8.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014, from $9.9 million for the comparable period in 2013. The change primarily reflected a decrease in the Company's interest rate spread to 2.79% for the three months ended March 31, 2014, from 2.97% for the comparable period in 2013, the decline in the accretion of fair market value adjustments and a decrease in the Company's average net earning assets of $12.1 million.

Net interest income decreased $2.2 million, or 10.55%, to $18.4 million for the six months ended March 31, 2014, from $20.6 million for the comparable period in 2013. The decline was primarily attributable to a decrease in the Company's interest rate spread to 2.83% for the six months ended March 31, 2014 from 3.06% for the comparable period in 2013, the decline in the accretion of fair market value adjustments and a decrease in the Company's average net earning assets of $7.4 million.

The net interest margin was 2.89% for the three months ended March 31, 2014 compared to a net interest margin of 3.08% for the comparable period in 2013. The net interest margin was 2.93% for the six months ended March 31, 2014 compared to a net interest margin of 3.17% for the comparable period in 2013. The Company's net interest rate spread was 2.88% and the net interest margin was 2.98% for the quarter ended December 31, 2013.

The provision for loan losses decreased to $750,000 for the three months ended March 31, 2014, compared to $850,000 for the three months ended March 31, 2013. Net loan charge-offs in fiscal second quarter 2014 were $456,000 compared to $734,000 in the fiscal second quarter 2013. The provision for loan losses decreased to $1.5 million for the six months ended March 31, 2014, compared to $1.9 million for the six months ended March 31, 2013. Net loan chargeoffs for the year-to-date 2014 period were $901,000 compared to chargeoffs of $1.5 million for the comparable 2013 period.

Noninterest income decreased 28.72% to $1.8 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014, compared to the three months ended March 31, 2013, primarily reflecting a decrease in the gains on sale of investments of $472,000 and decreased service charges and fees on loans of $164,000. Noninterest income decreased $1.1 million, or 24.64% to $3.4 million for the six months ended March 31, 2014 from $4.5 million for the comparable period in 2013. The primary reasons for the decline were decreases in services charges and fees on loans of $208,000, gain on sale of investments of $502,000 and gain on sale of loans of $415,000, respectively.

Noninterest expense declined 10.31% to $7.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014 compared to $8.8 million for the comparable period in 2013, primarily reflecting lower compensation and employee benefits expenses of $711,000 for the three months ended March 31, 2014 compared to the three months ended March 31, 2013. Decreases in the cost of the Company's stock based incentive plan and retirement costs were the primary reasons for the decline in compensation and employees benefits.

Noninterest expense declined 4.07% to $15.6 million for the six month period ended March 31, 2014 compared to $16.3 million for the comparable period in 2013. Declines in compensation and benefits of $959,000 and other expenses of $311,000 were partially offset by a decrease in the gain on foreclosed real estate of $347,000 and an increase in merger related expenses of $346,000 related to the Company's acquisition of Franklin Security Bancorp, which was completed on April 4, 2014.

Balance Sheet, Asset Quality and Capital Adequacy

Total assets decreased $6.9 million, or 0.50%, to $1.37 billion at March 31, 2014, compared to $1.37 billion at September 30, 2013.

Loans receivable, net of an $8.7 million allowance for loan losses, were $906.4 million at March 31, 2014 compared to loans receivable, net of an $8.1 million allowance for loan losses, of $928.2 million at September 30, 2013.

Total deposits decreased $42.6 million, or 4.09%, to $998.4 million at March 31, 2014, from $1.04 billion at September 30, 2013. Included in the deposit decrease was a decrease of $31.5 million in brokered certificates of deposit. During the same period, borrowings increased $31.3 million. Olson explained that in fiscal 2014, FHLB borrowings have been attractively priced compared to brokered certificates.

Nonperforming assets totaled $24.9 million, or 1.83%, of total assets at March 31, 2014, compared with $26.0 million, or 1.89%, of total assets at September 30, 2013. The decrease in nonperforming assets of $1.1 million at March 31, 2014 compared to September 30, 2013 was due primarily to a decline in nonperforming residential mortgages of $2.1 million offset by a $1.0 million increase in nonperforming commercial loans.

The allowance for loan losses was $8.7 million, or 0.95%, of loans outstanding at March 31, 2014, compared to $8.1 million, or 0.86%, of loans outstanding at September 30, 2013.

The Bank continued to demonstrate financial strength, with a tier 1 leverage ratio of 11.38%, exceeding accepted regulatory standards for a well-capitalized institution. The Company also maintains a tangible equity to total assets ratio of 11.27%.

Stockholders' equity increased $1.3 million to $167.7 million at March 31, 2014, from $166.4 million at September 30, 2013. During the three months ended March 31, 2014, the Company repurchased 41,625 shares at an average cost of $11.39 per share. Tangible book value per share at March 31, 2014 increased to $13.08 compared with $12.73 at March 31, 2013.

The Company's return on average assets and return on average equity, respectively, were 0.44% and 3.56% for the three months ended March 31, 2014 compared with 0.59% and 4.64% for the corresponding period of fiscal 2013. The Company's return on average assets and return on average equity, respectively, were 0.52% and 4.17% for the six months ended March 31, 2014 compared to 0.70% and 5.57% for the comparable period in fiscal 2013. Return on average assets and return on average equity, respectively, were 0.59% and 4.77% for the quarter ended December 31, 2013.

Olson concluded: "While economic conditions in Northeastern Pennsylvania continue to present challenges. we feel ESSA Bank & Trust is effectively competing for quality commercial and retail business and tapping into new opportunities available to us as a larger institution with a broader market footprint. We believe we have prudently leveraged our strong capital position to build ESSA Bancorp and to generate value for our shareholders in the process."

ESSA Bank & Trust, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ESSA Bancorp, Inc., has total assets of more than $1.5 billion and is the leading service-oriented financial institution headquartered in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. ESSA Bank & Trust maintains its corporate headquarters in downtown Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and has 27 community offices throughout the Greater Pocono, Lehigh Valley, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre markets in Pennsylvania. In addition to being one of the region's largest mortgage lenders, ESSA Bank & Trust offers a full range of retail, commercial financial services, and financial advisory and asset management capabilities. ESSA Bancorp, Inc. stock trades on The NASDAQ Global Select Market(SM) under the symbol "ESSA."

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained herein are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such forward-looking statements may be identified by reference to a future period or periods, or by the use of forward-looking terminology, such as "may," "will," "believe," "expect," "estimate," "anticipate," "continue," or similar terms or variations on those terms, or the negative of those terms. Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, those related to the economic environment, particularly in the market areas in which the Company operates, competitive products and pricing, fiscal and monetary policies of the U.S. Government, changes in government regulations affecting financial institutions, including compliance costs and capital requirements, changes in prevailing interest rates, acquisitions and the integration of acquired businesses, credit risk management, asset-liability management, the financial and securities markets and the availability of and costs associated with sources of liquidity.

The Company wishes to caution readers not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. The Company wishes to advise readers that the factors listed above could affect the Company's financial performance and could cause the Company's actual results for future periods to differ materially from any opinions or statements expressed with respect to future periods in any current statements. The Company does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to publicly release the result of any revisions, that may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events.

NON-GAAP Disclosures

This press release contains both financial measures based on accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (GAAP) and non-GAAP based financial measures, which are used where management believes it to be helpful in understanding the Company's results of operations or financial position. Where non-GAAP financial measures are used, the comparable GAAP financial measure, as well as the reconciliation to the comparable GAAP financial measure, can be found in this press release. These disclosures should not be viewed as a substitute for operating results determined in accordance with GAAP, nor are they necessarily comparable to non-GAAP performance measures that may be presented by other companies.

FINANCIAL TABLES FOLLOW


                     ESSA BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARY
                         CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET
                                (UNAUDITED)

                                                 March 31,    September 30,
                                                    2014           2013
                                               -------------  -------------
                                                  (dollars in thousands)
ASSETS
  Cash and due from banks                      $      12,895  $      22,393
  Interest-bearing deposits with other
   institutions                                       27,767          4,255
                                               -------------  -------------

    Total cash and cash equivalents                   40,662         26,648
  Certificates of deposit                              1,767          1,767
  Investment securities available for sale           314,329        315,622
  Loans receivable (net of allowance for loan
   losses of $8,662 and $8,064)                      906,356        928,230
  Regulatory stock, at cost                           10,353          9,415
  Premises and equipment, net                         17,055         15,747
  Bank-owned life insurance                           29,250         28,797
  Foreclosed real estate                               2,168          2,111
  Intangible assets, net                               1,992          2,466
  Goodwill                                            10,259          8,817
  Deferred income taxes                               11,350         11,183
  Other assets                                        19,853         21,512
                                               -------------  -------------

    TOTAL ASSETS                               $   1,365,394  $   1,372,315
                                               =============  =============


LIABILITIES
  Deposits                                     $     998,430  $   1,041,059
  Short-term borrowings                               38,000         23,000
  Other borrowings                                   145,550        129,260
  Advances by borrowers for taxes and
   insurance                                           8,870          4,962
  Other liabilities                                    6,810          7,588
                                               -------------  -------------

    TOTAL LIABILITIES                              1,197,660      1,205,869
                                               -------------  -------------


STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY
  Common stock                                           181            181
  Additional paid in capital                         182,586        182,440
  Unallocated common stock held by the
   Employee Stock Ownership Plan                     (10,306)       (10,532)
  Retained earnings                                   73,912         71,709
  Treasury stock, at cost                            (76,793)       (76,117)
  Accumulated other comprehensive loss                (1,846)        (1,235)
                                               -------------  -------------

    TOTAL STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY                       167,734        166,446
                                               -------------  -------------

    TOTAL LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY $   1,365,394  $   1,372,315
                                               =============  =============



                     ESSA BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARY
                      CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF INCOME
                                (UNAUDITED)

                                       For the Three
                                           Months        For the Six Months
                                       Ended March 31      Ended March 31
                                    ------------------- -------------------
                                       2014      2013      2014      2013
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
                                        (dollars in
                                         thousands)
INTEREST INCOME
  Loans receivable                  $   9,843 $  11,041 $  20,366 $  23,278
  Investment securities:
    Taxable                             1,523     1,558     3,050     3,188
    Exempt from federal income tax         71        73       144       127
  Other investment income                  85        18       144        47
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
    Total interest income              11,522    12,690    23,704    26,640
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------


INTEREST EXPENSE
  Deposits                              1,906     1,848     3,894     3,819
  Short-term borrowings                    27        46        50        82
  Other borrowings                        651       912     1,331     2,136
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
    Total interest expense              2,584     2,806     5,275     6,037
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------


NET INTEREST INCOME                     8,938     9,884    18,429    20,603
  Provision for loan losses               750       850     1,500     1,850
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------


NET INTEREST INCOME AFTER PROVISION
 FOR LOAN LOSSES                        8,188     9,034    16,929    18,753

                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
NONINTEREST INCOME
  Service fees on deposit accounts        722       711     1,514     1,518
  Services charges and fees on loans      104       268       289       497
  Trust and investment fees               230       196       441       411
  Gain on sale of investments, net        236       708       236       738
  Gain on sale of loans, net                -        81         -       415
  Earnings on Bank-owned life
   insurance                              225       248       453       474
  Insurance commissions                   227       232       420       407
  Other                                     8        14        26        24
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
    Total noninterest income            1,752     2,458     3,379     4,484

                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
NONINTEREST EXPENSE
  Compensation and employee benefits    4,357     5,068     8,665     9,624
  Occupancy and equipment               1,065     1,030     1,983     1,979
  Professional fees                       498       592       907       904
  Data processing                         769       805     1,449     1,468
  Advertising                             114       145       220       255
  Federal Deposit Insurance
   Corporation Premiums                   235       293       464       478
  Loss (Gain) on foreclosed real
   estate                                 (93)     (172)      (51)     (398)
  Merger related costs                     88         -       346         -
  Amortization of intangible assets       237       249       474       499
  Other                                   614       780     1,175     1,486
                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
    Total noninterest expense           7,884     8,790    15,632    16,295

                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------
Income before income taxes              2,056     2,702     4,676     6,942
  Income taxes                            554       662     1,170     2,023

                                    --------- --------- --------- ---------

Net Income                          $   1,502 $   2,040 $   3,506 $   4,919
                                    ========= ========= ========= =========

Earnings per share:
  Basic                             $    0.14 $    0.17 $    0.32 $    0.41
  Diluted                           $    0.14 $    0.17 $    0.32 $    0.41



                           For the Three Months       For the Six Months
                              Ended March 31,           Ended March 31,
                         ------------------------  ------------------------
                             2014         2013         2014         2013
                         -----------  -----------  -----------  -----------
                          (dollars in thousands)    (dollars in thousands)
CONSOLIDATED AVERAGE
 BALANCES:
  Total assets           $ 1,355,618  $ 1,393,004  $ 1,358,326  $ 1,395,870
  Total interest-earning
   assets                  1,256,273    1,300,283    1,260,595    1,302,189
  Total interest-bearing
   liabilities             1,110,095    1,142,032    1,115,335    1,149,526
  Total stockholders'
   equity                    168,610      175,697      168,334      176,517

PER COMMON SHARE DATA:
  Average shares
   outstanding - basic    10,859,518   11,763,581   10,875,856   11,932,539
  Average shares
   outstanding - diluted  10,859,702   11,763,581   10,884,070   11,932,539
  Book value shares       11,885,778   12,589,699   11,885,778   12,589,699

Net interest rate spread        2.79%        2.97%        2.83%        3.06%
Net interest margin             2.89%        3.08%        2.93%        3.17%



RECONCILIATION OF GAAP TO NON-    For the Three Months   For the Six Months
 GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES:           Ended March 31,       Ended March 31,
                                 --------------------- ---------------------
                                    2014       2013       2014       2013
                                 ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------
                                      (dollars in           (dollars in
                                       thousands)            thousands)

  Income before income taxes     $    2,056 $    2,702 $    4,676 $    6,942
  Deduct: accretion of fair
   market value adjustments from
   First Star acquisition               222        653        852      2,052
  Deduct: Gains from sales of
   loans and investments                236        789        236      1,153
  Add: Merger related costs              88          -        346          -
                                 ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

  Pre-tax core earnings:         $    1,686 $    1,260 $    3,934 $    3,737
                                 ========== ========== ========== ==========

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