Simmons First annual report shows $210 million in added assets

Simmons First National Corp. reported an $210 million increase in total assets — from $3.3 billion to $3.5 billion — from 2011 to 2012 in its 2012 annual report released to shareholders Monday.

The report characterized the year ending Dec. 31 as one in which earnings were better than anticipated but not on par with previous years and expectations.

“Our earnings topped $27.7 million, an increase of 9 percent on assets of $3.5 billion,” Simmons First National Chairman and CEO J. Thomas May said in his letter to shareholders. “While we compare favorably to our peers it remains below our historical performance and expectation levels, primarily driven by historically low interest rates and a very sluggish recovery.”

May said in his letter that earnings growth was a major accomplishment for 2012 and that this was largely achieved by using excess capital to acquire two Missouri banks closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Simmons acquired the $279 million in assets of Truman Bank in St. Louis, Mo., on Sept. 14; and acquired the $201 million in assets of Excel Bank of Sedalia, Mo., on Oct. 19.

“Simmons First has expanded its footprint to 55 communities in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, serving those markets through 92 branch locations,” May wrote.

May said 2012 was a year of transition for Simmons First, as he announced in late 2011 that he would be retiring at the end of 2013 and that George Makris Jr. had been selected as his successor.

“Mr. Makris was chosen to be my successor because he knows our company, having served as a director and chairman of the Audit Committee for the past 15 years, and he is well known by our team of leaders,” May said. “Mr. Makris is uniquely qualified to deal with regulatory reform, with increased emphasis on efficiency initiatives, growth through acquisitions and the vision needed to enhance shareholder value with new products and services that will enhance non-interest income.”

May wrote that Makris will spend one year in transition with him and will assume the position of chairman and CEO on Jan. 1, 2014.

“Bottom line, while the economy remains sluggish, our asset quality, efficiency initiatives, loan growth and acquisitions enabled us to achieve a 9 percent growth in earnings and 12 percent growth in EPS [earnings per share],” May wrote.

Simmons reported stockholders’ equity for the year of $406 million and earnings per share of $1.64.

Simmons reported that during 2012 it had more than 1,100 associates involved in more than 600 organizations contributing more than 29,000 volunteer hours.