National Penn Bancshares Inc., of Boyertown, Pa., for example, has climbed out of a deep hole since the beginning of 2010 and, aided by an infusion of capital from new investors, is eager to expand its branch network in Philadelphia and Delaware County.
Fulton Financial Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer told investors that the bank needs "some critical mass between where I sit right now and Philadelphia," referring to the bank's Lancaster headquarters.
Another Lancaster County bank, Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., already has taken steps to expand closer to Philadelphia, with its pending purchase of Abington Bancorp Inc. and Tower Bancorp Inc., which bought the First National Bank of Chester County.
Slow loan growth - only seven of the 13 banks reported loan growth, and that was usually slight - is one reason banks are eyeing competitors that can help fill in holes in their markets.
Scott Fainor, National Penn's CEO, said many of his bank's customers did not feel as though they had entirely escaped the recession. They "feel that things have stabilized, but they are still very cautious," he said.
At Bryn Mawr Bank Corp., "loan demand from our existing customers has been fairly soft, as it has been at most banks just because of the economy," Joseph G. Keefer, the bank's chief lending officer, told analysts Friday. New loans are coming from customers who have left competitors, he said.
Sun Bancorp Inc., of Vineland, N.J., which posted a second-quarter loss and has the longest string of quarterly losses among the 13 banks, at nine, reported a strong gain in commercial lending in the second quarter. The bank made $121 million in new loans in the quarter, up from $40 million in the first quarter.
"Our commercial-loan pipeline is the strongest it's been in two years," CEO Thomas X. Geisel said.
Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or email@example.com.