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HUNTINGTON — Premier Financial Bancorp on Tuesday reported 2020 net income of $22.438 million, a 7.3% decrease from 2019.

The decrease was due largely to decreases in interest income and non-interest income, coupled with an increase in the provision for loan losses and a slight increase in noninterest expense. The changes that negatively affected net income more than offset decreases in interest expense and income tax expense, the company said in its earnings release.

Most of the changes were largely in response to changes in the economy related to the novel coronavirus, whether as a result of governmental stimulus to depositors and borrowers, Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ changes in interest rate policy to stimulate the economy and/or customer behavior in response to government guidelines aimed to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the company said.

“We are pleased with our results for the year 2020, especially as we continue to navigate all of the societal and economic changes related to curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Robert W. Walker, Premier’s president and CEO, said in the earnings report.

“The path ahead is still uncertain for most businesses, including ours. As lenders, we are carefully monitoring our borrowers’ performance and will respond accordingly as we learn about their ability to continue to meet their debt obligations. Our non-interest income was down as deposit customers kept close tabs on their personal finances and were less likely to overdraft their deposit accounts with us.

“As an essential business, we took steps to modify our normal business operations to include keeping branches open with appropriate ‘social distancing’ measures; utilizing permitted guidance provided by federal and state banking supervisory regulators to assist borrowers to avoid defaulting on their loans; and robustly participating in the U.S. Treasury’s and Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (‘PPP’).

“In 2020, Premier generated $116 million of new loans to small and medium sized businesses via the PPP program and has been assisting our borrowers with their applications for PPP loan forgiveness. Through the end of the year, nearly half of our PPP loan balances have been forgiven by the Small Business Administration.”

For the fourth quarter, Premier reported net income of $5.94 million, a 0.8% increase over the $5.894 million net income reported for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Premier Financial Bancorp. is a $1.9 billion bank holding company based in Huntington. One of its operating companies is Premier Bank, which has 31 banking offices in West Virginia, Virginia and the District of Columbia Metro area, including Huntington.

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