Metropolitan Merger Expense Weighs On Simmons First Earnings

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff on Thursday reported a 53 percent decline in year-over-year fourth-quarter profit as expenses related to its purchase of Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock weighed on earnings.

The financial holding company (Nasdaq: SFNC) reported fourth-quarter net income of $3.7 million, or 23 cents per share, down from the $8 million, or 48 cents per share, it reported in the same quarter last year.

But without $4 million in one-time expenses related to its Metropolitan merger and subsequent bank consolidations, Simmons' core earnings were $7.7 million, a nearly 5 percent increase over core earnings during the same quarter last year. Core earnings per share were 48 cents, up 9 percent.

"We are pleased with the core earnings results for the fourth quarter and for the year," George A. Makris, Jr., Chairman and CEO, said in a news release. "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 performance benefits.

"Our focus continues to be improvement in core operating income." 

In December, Simmons filed applications with its federal regulator to close 27 of its 88 Arkansas branches. Simmons executives had said that between 14 and 35 branches would likely close because of its $53.6 million purchase of Metropolitan, which closed in November.