Simmons First Beats 4Q Profit Forecast; Marty Casteel to Retire

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Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $52.7 million, down 5% from the same quarter last year, but earnings per share beat Wall Street forecasts.

The publicly traded company (Nasdaq: SFNC) reported earnings of 49 cents per share. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, those earnings were 66 cents per share, ahead of analysts’ expectations of 61 cents per share.

For the year, the company reported profit of $237.8 million, up 10% from $215.7 million in the previous year. Annual earnings per share was $2.41 per share, up from $2.32 per share in the previous year.

“We are very proud of our results for 2019,” Chairman and CEO George A. Makris said in a news release. “Not only did we produce excellent financial results, we welcomed new associates from Reliance Bank in St. Louis and Landmark Bank in Columbia, [Missouri,] to the Simmons family.”

Makris said that in 2019, the company reported a return on assets of 1.33% and a “core” return on assets of 1.51%, which exceeded the company’s target of 1.50%. The company posted an efficiency ratio of 50.3%, within its target range of 50% to 55%. 

Simmons also announced that Marty Casteel, a company director, senior executive vice president and the chairman, president and CEO of its subsidiary, Simmons Bank, will retire effective March 31. He will continue to serve as a director of both the company and Simmons Bank. 

“For over thirty years, Marty has been a critical component of Simmons’ success,” Makris said. “With deep knowledge, experience and integrity, Marty has provided incredible leadership to our organization and masterfully overseen its recent transformation through acquisitions with great care and compassion for all involved. I am personally extremely grateful for his presence and counsel during my tenure with this company, and I am thankful Marty has agreed to remain affiliated with it as a director.”

Simmons said that upon Casteel’s retirement, Makris will take over his duties as chairman, president and CEO of Simmons Bank, in addition to his current role as chairman and CEO of the company.

Simmons also said that Patrick Burrow, executive vice president and general counsel, will also retire on March 31.

“As the company’s first general counsel, and prior to that, its longtime outside counsel, Pat has been a steady source of legal advice for our organization and its associates,” Makris said.

Simmons First National shares have declined almost 4% since the beginning of the year, according to The Associated Press. The stock has dropped 1.5% in the last 12 months.

(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)