Simmons First National Corporation reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter 2012 net income increased 27.4 percent over its fourth-quarter 2011 mark.
The Pine Bluff-based corporation and parent firm of Simmons First National Bank experienced net earnings of $8 million from October through December last year, up from $6.3 million during the same period the year before.
“There are so many positives with our earnings announcement,” said SFNC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J. Thomas May, who termed the net income growth “a major accomplishment.” He added that the increase was “even more significant” because “it was accomplished through the execution of our strategic plan.”
May explained that the corporation’s plan “resulted in the deployment of our excess capital in two strategic acquisitions, continued improvement in our asset quality numbers that were already strong, and new initiatives that were introduced in all eight of our banks.” The initiatives “resulted in good growth in our loan portfolios and customer relationships,” he noted.
SFNB in October purchased $180 million in assets and assumed substantially all the deposits and other liabilities of Excel Bank in Sedalia, Mo., according to a SFNB news release on the quarterly performance. The corporation recognized a pre-tax “bargain purchase gain” of $2.3 million on the transaction while incurring pre-tax, merger-related costs of $1.1 million.
SFNC gained $735,000 in net income from the transactions after taxes, which translated into diluted earnings per share of four cents.
In a Thursday afternoon telephone conference, May further expressed his delight with the quarterly profits, rating the company’s stock “a great value at its current price.” He credited the corporation’s “management team” for providing the bulk of the momentum for the success, saying, “Its hard work is really paying off.”
He boasted of the corporation’s “proactive mentality” in “not waiting on ‘someday’” in seeking positive development.
SFNC’s total loans — including the acquisitions — were $1.9 billion as of Dec. 31, an increase of $184.3 million or 10.6 percent compared to the same period in 2011. Loans acquired in Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-assisted acquisitions grew $135.6-million — net of discounts — and “legacy loans,” excluding acquired loans, were up by $48.7 million or 3.1 percent, the news release said.
The corporation’s net interest income for the last quarter of 2012 grew to $30.6 million, an increase of $3.3 million or 12.1 percent over 2011’s final quarter. Non-interest income for the just-completed quarter was $14.8, compared to $12.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.
As of Dec. 31, the corporation’s total deposits were $2.9 billion, an increase of $224 million or 8.4 percent compared to the same period in 2011. Deposits acquired in the Excel acquisition were $117 million at the quarter’s end.
The conference call was the first in which George A. Makris Jr. participated as SFNC’s CEO-elect. He’ll succeed May on Jan. 1, 2014, a day after May is to retire. May said Makris “has hit the road running since starting Jan. 4” and told Makris, “I look forward to you sitting in this chair in the near future.”