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Commerce Bancshares' Numbers Do the Talking

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ( TheStreet) -- Commerce Bancshares (CBSH - Get Report) sets the standard for tradition among Midwest banks.

The 145-year-old institution has been a steady earnings performer, increasing its net-interest income and fee revenue through the credit crisis without government assistance.

Commerce Bancshares had $18.4 billion in total assets as of June 30. The company operates through over 370 offices in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado.

>>Is Commerce Bancshares a Buy?

The Kansas City lender has been remarkably stable through the credit crisis. According to data provided by SNL Financial, the company's 10.67% return on average equity for the first half of 2010 puts it in eighth place among U.S. bank and thrift holding companies with total assets exceeding $10 billion dollars. Looking back at the top ten earners among this group of holding companies, only Commerce, Northern Trust (NTRS - Get Report) and Bank of Hawaii (BOH - Get Report) were among the top ten for return on equity for 2008, 2009 and the first half of 2010.

The family of CEO David Kemper has been involved with Commerce for most of the its history. Although the company is responsive to requests for information from analysts and the media, Commerce doesn't hold quarterly conference calls with analysts, preferring to let the company's steady earnings performance speak for itself.

For the second quarter, Commerce reported net income of $59.7 million, or 71 cents a share, up from $44.2 million, or 53 a share, during the first quarter and $37 million, or 48 cents, a year earlier. Most of the improvement in earnings came from a reduction in the quarterly provision for loan losses as credit quality improved.

The company said that new regulations requiring customers to opt-in for overdraft protection on ATM or debit card overdrafts could reduce second-half 2010 overdraft fees by as much as $13 million. Total deposit account charges and other fees for the first half of 2010 were $49.5 million.

Solid growth in the company's corporate credit card business is expected to partially offset the decline in ATM/Debit card overdraft fees. Commerce has been providing incentives to commercial customers (with a focus on schools and hospitals), to pay suppliers and vendors using their corporate cards, rather than by check. The company's card transaction fee revenue for the second quarter was $37.7 million, which was a 25% increase year-over-year.
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