Pine Bluff, AR (STL.News) Simmons First National Corporation (NASDAQ: SFNC) today announced net income of $237.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019, compared to $215.7 million for 2018, an increase of $22.1 million, or 10.3%. Diluted earnings per share were $2.41 for 2019, an increase of $0.09, or 3.9%, compared to prior year. Included in the 2019 results were $31.7 million in net after-tax merger-related, early retirement program and branch right-sizing costs. Excluding the impact of these items, core earnings were $269.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2019, compared to $220.2 million for 2018, an increase of $49.3 million, or 22.4%. Core diluted earnings per share were $2.73, an increase of $0.36, or 15.2%, from the same period in 2018.
Fourth quarter 2019 net income was $52.7 million, or $0.49 diluted earnings per share, compared to $55.6 million, or $0.60 diluted earnings per share, for the same period in 2018. Excluding $18.4 million in net aftertax merger-related and branch right-sizing costs, fourth quarter 2019 core earnings were $71.1 million, an increase of $14.6 million compared to the same period last year. Core diluted earnings per share were $0.66, an increase of $0.05, or 8.2%, from the same period in 2018.
“We are very proud of our results for 2019,” said George A. Makris, Jr., chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corporation. “Not only did we produce excellent financial results, we welcomed new associates from Reliance Bank in St. Louis and Landmark Bank in Columbia, MO to the Simmons family.
“From time to time we tend to be focused more on specific metrics within our financial performance and lose sight of the bigger picture results. In retrospect, our performance in 2019 was remarkable. We achieved a return on assets of 1.33% and a core return on assets of 1.51%, which exceeded our target of 1.50%. We produced a 9.9% return on common equity with an 18.0% return on tangible common equity and a 20.3% core return on tangible common equity. We operated at an efficiency ratio of 50.3%, which is within our target range of 50-55%. Our construction and development concentration went from 105% at the end of the second quarter to 98% at year-end while our commercial real estate concentration was lowered from 333% at the end of the second quarter to 293% at year-end – both ratios now below the regulatory guidelines. And importantly, our book value per share rose 8.1% while our tangible book value per share rose 12.1% during a time when we completed two acquisitions – Reliance Bank in St. Louis and Landmark Bank in Columbia, MO – which added $4.9 billion in assets and we repurchased $10 million of our stock.
NOTE: this is NOT complete release.