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Commerce Bancshares, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBSH) announced record earnings of $2.82 per share for the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of 17.5% compared to $2.40 in 2010. Net income amounted to $256.3 million in 2011 compared to $221.7 million in 2010, or an increase of 15.6%. The return on average assets was 1.32% in 2011, the return on average equity was 12.15%, and the efficiency ratio totaled 59.1%.
For the fourth quarter, earnings per share amounted to $.69 compared to $.67 in the fourth quarter of 2010 and $.72 per share in the previous quarter. Net income for the fourth quarter amounted to $61.5 million compared to $61.9 million in the same period last year and $65.4 million in the previous quarter. The return on average assets for the three months ended December 31, 2011 was 1.19%, and the return on average equity was 11.39%.
In announcing these results, David W. Kemper, Chairman and CEO, said, “We are pleased to report record earnings in 2011, which was achieved despite a difficult operating environment of weak loan demand and record low interest rates. These solid earnings occurred as a result of growth in average deposits, which increased 9.1% this year, and higher revenues from our corporate card and money management businesses, which grew by 19.7% and 9.1%, respectively. Also, our provision for loan losses declined 48.5% this year as loan losses decreased significantly, and non-interest expense declined by $13.9 million, or 2.2%. During the fourth quarter, net interest income grew slightly on continued strong core deposit growth. While loan growth remains soft, we saw some increased demand for both auto and commercial real estate loans this quarter. Also during the quarter, we reached a settlement totaling $18.3 million in a class action lawsuit regarding debit overdraft transactions, which resulted in an additional charge this quarter of $7.4 million pre-tax.”