Earnings numbers are up, down for Simmons

Fourth-quarter 2013 figures were up and down for Simmons First National Corp., the Pine Bluff-based bank-holding company disclosed in a Thursday announcement.

At $7.7 million, fourth-quarter core earnings were up $345,000 or 4.7 percent from 2012’s final quarter mark of $7.36 million. Per-share earnings increased 9.1 percent from 44 to 48 cents. The 2013 figures, however, excluded after-tax, non-interest costs associated with SFNC subsidiary Simmons First National Bank’s acquisition of and merger with the Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Network.

The Metropolitan transaction was finalized in November. Earlier this month, SFNC Chairman and CEO George A. Makris Jr. confirmed that SFNB is shutting down 16 former Metropolitan branches that had been targeted for closure during planning for the merger. One of the former Metropolitan operations is in Sheridan. The others are in Bentonville, Cabot, Conway, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Rogers, Sherwood and Springdale.

A survey had shown that a number of SFNB and former Metropolitan branches would be operating in close proximity. Makris said consolidating branches made good sense and would net customers more and better services.

Thursday’s statement noted that SFNC’s total net income for 2013 was down to $23.2 million or $1.42 diluted earnings per share from 2012’s readings of $27.7 million or $1.64 earnings per share. But 2013’s core earnings jumped to $27.6 million from 2012’s $26.9 million mark.

“We are pleased with the core earnings results for the fourth quarter and for the year,” Makris said in Wednesday’s announcement. “As a result of our fourth-quarter acquisition of Metropolitan National Bank, other recent acquisitions and efficiency initiatives, we have and will continue to recognize one-time revenue and expense items which may skew our short-term business results but provide long-term benefits. Our focus continues to be improvement in core operating income.”

The Metropolitan transaction helped to swell Simmons’ total deposits by $823 million to $3.7 billion as of Dec. 31, 2013, a 28.7-percent leap from the previous year.

Total loans — including acquired accounts — were $2.4 billion at 2013’s end. The amount was a $483 million or 25.1-percent advance over 2012. Legacy loans — all loans excluding acquired loans — climbed by $114 million or 7 percent over 2012.

“We are encouraged by the continued growth in our legacy loan portfolio during the fourth quarter,” Makris said. “We have had nice loan growth this year, particularly from the new lenders we have attracted in our targeted growth markets. Their production has exceeded our expectations through the end of the year”