Simmons First 4Q Net Up 27 Percent to $8 Million

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff on Thursday announced fourth quarter net income of $8.0 million, up 27 percent from the same quarter last year.

The company (Nasdaq: SFNC) said net income rose form $6.3 million during the same quarter in 2011. Diluted earnings per share were 48 cents, up nearly 30 percent from the same time last year.

"There are many positives with our earnings announcement. Personally I believe the 27% net income growth is a major accomplishment," J. Thomas May, chairman and CEO, said in a news release. 

"Even more significant is the way it was accomplished through the execution of our strategic plan, which 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 that resulted in good growth in our loan portfolios and customer relationships," he said.

For the full year of 2012, net income reached $27.7 million, or $1.64 per share, from $25.4 million, or $1.47 per share, for the 2011.

FDIC Deal

During the quarter, Simmons purchased Excel Bank of Sedalia, Mo., in an FDIC-assisted transaction. The company said the deal contributed $735,000, or 4 cents per share, to fourth-quarter net income.

That deal, announced in October, marked the second bank the company purchased in Missouri last year. Before that, Simmons purchased Truman Bank of St. Louis in September. The addition of Excel Bank brought the number of Simmons branches to nine in Missouri and nine in Kansas.

In a press release, Simmons' said its deal with the FDIC allows the bank to "to purchase $201 million in assets and assume all of the deposits and substantially all other liabilities, at a discount of $21.0 million and no deposit premium."

At the time, May signaled that his company was still on the hunt for other aquisitions.

Growth

Simmons said that total loans, including those acquired, reached $1.9 billion at Dec. 31, an increase of $184.3 million, or 10.6 percent, compared to the same period in 2011. Loans acquired in FDIC-assisted acquisitions grew by $135.6 million, net of discounts, and legacy loans (excluding acquired loans) grew $48.7 million, or 3.1 percent.

"This was the second consecutive quarter of organic loan growth," May said. "While not enough to call a trend, we believe it is very positive in that the growth is coming throughout our markets in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.

"Needless to say, the economy remains in a slow recovery, which makes this growth even more significant," he said.

As of Dec. 31, total deposits were $2.9 billion, up 8.4 percent compared to the same period in 2011. Net interest income for the fourth quarter was $30.6 million, up 12.1 percent from the same period of 2011.

May also noted the company's "exceptional level of capital," which he said puts Simmons in the 82nd percentile of the company's peer group and "allows us to actively pursue the right opportunities that meet our strategic plan regarding mergers and acquisitions."