Montecito Bank & Trust reported strong earnings of $7.7 million for the first nine months of 2009 as compared to $5.2 million for the first nine months of 2008, the bank said in a statement issued Monday.

“We are extremely pleased with our performance, especially given the continuing stress in the economic environment,” said Janet Garufis, president and chief executive officer. “We continue to benefit from our disciplined management practices and our long-term strategic approach to growth and profitability.

“Our deposits grew by over 15 percent between Sept. 30, 2008, and Sept. 30 2009, from $670.4 million to $773.5 million, while our loans grew 10 percent, reaching $551.9 million on Sept. 30, 2009, as compared to $502 million on Sept. 30, 2008. Our total assets grew to $930.1 million as of Sept. 30, 2009, an increase of 14 percent over the $818.1 million in total assets on Sept. 30, 2008.”

The bank attributed its continued profitability to keeping its focus on the basics of community banking: managing its customers’ deposits and making loans to local people and businesses in the communities it serves. Montecito Bank & Trust has not taken TARP funding, but the bank’s Total Risk-Based Capital grew to 12.14 percent at the end of September, compared to 11.24 percent at the end of June, and its current strong liquidity and safe and sound business practices allow it to continue to build new deposit and lending relationships with customers.

The statement said the bank is excited to host its seventh annual Community Dividends® program in November, when it will give $1 million to more than 100 nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The bank said its customers make the program possible and, as a community bank, it is committed to helping local communities thrive and prosper.

Montecito Bank & Trust, an S Corporation, is a locally owned community bank founded in 1975 and known for its ongoing support of the community through unique giving programs like Community Dividends® and Anniversary GrantsSM. The bank has branch offices in Carpinteria, Goleta, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Ventura and Westlake Village. It offers a variety of competitive deposit and lending solutions for businesses and consumers, including consumer loans, business loans and lines of credit, SBA loans, credit cards, merchant services, online banking and cash management. Its Wealth Management Division — with offices in Montecito, Solvang and Ventura — provides full investment management as well as trust services for all of the bank’s branch office markets.

Montecito Bank & Trust has been designated a Super Premier or Premier Performing Bank for the last nine years by The Findley Reports, an independent service that rates the financial performance of California banks. Montecito Bank & Trust was the only Santa Barbara-based financial institution to receive such a high Findley rating in 2008.

— Carolyn Tulloh is marketing director at Montecito Bank & Trust.