Commerce Bancshares, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBSH) announced record earnings of $.74 per share for the three months ended March 31, 2012 compared to $.66 per share in the first quarter of 2011, or an increase of 12.1%. Net income for the first quarter amounted to $65.8 million compared to $60.5 million in the same quarter last year. For the quarter, the return on average assets totaled 1.29%, the return on average equity was 12.0% and the efficiency ratio was 58.9%.
In announcing these results, David W. Kemper, Chairman and CEO, said, “We were pleased to report record first quarter earnings per share of $.74. The growth over last year resulted mainly from a decline in our provision for loan losses of $7.6 million coupled with revenue growth in our corporate card, capital markets and money management businesses of 17%, 46% and 6%, respectively. Additionally, non-interest expense declined 2% compared to the same period last year. Average loans grew $70.8 million, or 1%, this quarter compared to the previous quarter, as a result of growth in business, business real estate and personal real estate loans. Average deposits also grew by $270.2 million this quarter, or 2%. While net interest income declined 1% compared to the previous quarter, the margin remained stable.”
Further, Mr. Kemper noted, “Net loan charge-offs for the current quarter totaled $11.2 million, compared to $15.6 million in the previous quarter and $18.8 million in the first quarter of 2011. Commercial net loan charge-offs totaled $1.8 million this quarter, down $2.2 million from the previous quarter, while bankcard net loan charge-offs totaled $6.2 million, or 3.4% of average bankcard loans. During the current quarter, the provision for loan losses totaled $8.2 million, or $3.0 million less than net loan charge-offs, and reflected the improving credit trends in our loan portfolio. Our allowance for loan losses amounted to $181.5 million this quarter, representing 2.6 times our non-performing loans. Total non-performing assets decreased $6.3 million to $87.5 million this quarter. At March 31, 2012, our ratio of tangible common equity to assets remained strong at 10.1%, and during the quarter we repurchased approximately 811,000 shares of Company stock at an average price per share of $39.”