Simmons First attributes earnings gain to loan growth in Kansas

The holding company of Simmons First National Bank said Thursday that it ended the year with earnings gains in the fourth quarter and the year.

The Pine Bluff, Ark.-based company said net income for the fourth quarter 2012 was $8.03 million, compared with $6.31 million in the same period a year ago.

For 2012, earnings were $27.7 million, compared with $25.4 million in 2011.

Simmons First National Corp. attributed the gains, in part, to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-assisted acquisition in 2012 of Excel Bank of Sedalia, Mo., as well as internal loan growth.

“This was the second consecutive quarter of organic loan growth,” said chairman and CEO J. Thomas May in a news release. “While not enough to call a trend, we believe it is very positive in that the growth is coming throughout our markets in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. Needless to say, the economy remains in a slow recovery, which makes this growth even more significant.”

Simmons First operates two branches in Wichita.