Q4 Net Income Up Slightly at Simmons First

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Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff said Tuesday that fourth-quarter net income was $53 million, up 0.5% from $52.7 million in the same quarter last year.

Diluted earnings per share was 49 cents — the same as in the same quarter last year and beating Wall Street expectations of 40 cents per share.

The fourth-quarter figure included $9 million in net after-tax merger-related costs, early retirement program expenses and other items. Excluding those items, the company said fourth-quarter “core” earnings were $62 million, down about 13% from the same quarter in 2019. “Core” diluted earnings per share was 57 cents, down 9 cents from last year.

George A. Makris Jr., chairman and CEO, said in a news release that he was “very proud” of the teamwork and results the company achieved in a challenging 2020.

“We mobilized over 1,500 associates to work from home at times during the year while maintaining our ability to serve our customers,” he said. “We provided over 8,000 [Paycheck Protection Program] loans totaling almost $1 billion to businesses that faced extraordinary uncertainty and helped support over 100,000 jobs.”

The company also integrated a key acquisition, Landmark Bank, which it first announced in 2019. With $3 billion in assets, Landmark Bank, bought through its parent company The Landrum Co. of Columbia, Missouri, is the largest individual bank purchased by Simmons First. The all-stock deal was worth about $434 million.

For the full year, Simmons First reported net income of $254.9 million, up 7% from $237.8 million in 2019. Diluted earnings per share was $2.31, down 4% from the previous year.

Full-year revenue was $223.2 million, and revenue net of interest expense was $199 million, which missed Wall Street forecasts of $199.4 million.

Total loans were $12.9 billion at Dec. 31, down about 11% from the previous year, reflecting what Makris called “tepid loan demand during 2020.” 

“Approximately $375 million of the decrease was due to the sale of loans associated with branch sales in south Texas and Colorado during the year,” he said. “Our total loan pipeline consisting of all loan opportunities, which was a robust $1.7 billion at Dec. 31, 2019, fell to $374 million at Sept. 30, 2020. 

“The pipeline is starting to rebuild and ended 2020 at $674 million, including $177 million in loans approved and ready to close. On a positive note, our concentration levels in commercial real estate are now well below regulatory guidelines and we have substantial capacity to make additional loans, help borrowers in our markets and help the economy recover,” Makris said.