Merger Expenses Weigh on Home BancShares; 4Q Profit Down 23 Percent

Home BancShares Inc. of Conway, the holding company of Centennial Bank, on Thursday reported fourth-quarter profit of $13 million or 19 cents per share, down from $16.9 million or 30 cents per share during the same quarter last year.

The 23 percent decline in net income came amid $17.3 million in expenses related to the company's $320.1 million acquisition of Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Jonesboro, which it completed in October. Without those those one-time costs, fourth-quarter earnings per share would have been 37 cents.

For the full year, profit was $66.5 million or $1.14 per share, compared to $63 million or $1.11 for the year ended 2012. Excluding all one-time expenses, fourth-quarter earnings per share was $1.33, up nearly 18 percent, from the previous year.

The fourth quarter of 2012 also included expenses related to a pair of Home BancShares acquisitions. Excluding all the one-time expenses, earnings per share was up 7 cents, or 23 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2012 to 2013.

"During the fourth quarter we made a game-changing purchase with the Liberty acquisition," Johnny Allison, the company's chairman, said in an earnings news release. "It was a historical accomplishment for Home BancShares to be able to complete Arkansas' largest ever in-state bank acquisition plus convert the core operating systems in the same quarter.

"This impressive execution has the Company in position to realize the anticipated cost savings, thereby rewarding our shareholders," he said.

Home Bancshares said it took on 46 new branch locations as a result of the Liberty acquisition. It said it has closed or merger four locations. It also closed a branch in Panama City, Fla., and said it plans to close another Panacea, Fla. In all, the company has 88 branches in Arkansas, 53 in Florida and seven in Alabama.