Kansas City, MO, January 18, 2017 - Commerce Bancshares, Inc. announced earnings of $.68 per common share for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared to $.65 per share in the prior quarter and $.60 per share in the fourth quarter of 2015. Net income attributable to Commerce Bancshares, Inc. for the fourth quarter amounted to $71.6 million, compared to $68.5 million in the prior quarter and $63.7 million in the same quarter last year. For the quarter, the return on average assets was 1.14%, the return on average common equity was 11.5%, and the efficiency ratio was 61.8%.
For the year ended December 31, 2016, earnings per common share totaled $2.61 compared to $2.43 in 2015, or an increase of 7.4%. Net income attributable to Commerce Bancshares, Inc. amounted to $275.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to $263.7 million in 2015. In 2016, the return on average assets was 1.12%, and the return on average common equity was 11.3%.
In announcing these results, David W. Kemper, Chairman and CEO, said, "Overall, Commerce saw strong performance in 2016, with loan growth of 8% and growth in earnings per share of 7%. Loan growth was solid this quarter, as average loans grew $231 million, or 7% annualized. This increase resulted from higher business real estate loan demand, coupled with good growth in residential mortgage and other consumer loans. Average deposits grew $388 million this quarter, or 8% annualized, reflecting expected seasonal growth. Net interest income increased 7% over the fourth quarter of 2015, reflecting growth in loan and investment securities interest income and stable funding costs, and we remain well positioned for improved margins, should interest rates rise in 2017. Non-interest income this quarter grew 3% compared to the same period last year on continued growth in trust, sweep, deposit and swap fees. Non-interest expense was flat with the prior quarter but was up 3% over the same period last year."
Mr. Kemper added, "We continue to maintain strong capital and liquidity levels. Credit quality across our entire loan portfolio remains excellent, with low credit losses and delinquency rates and declining non-performing assets. Net loan charge-offs totaled $9.0 million this quarter, compared to $6.6 million in the previous quarter, with the increase largely due to lower commercial loan recoveries this quarter and slightly higher consumer net loan charge-offs. During the current quarter, the provision for loan losses totaled $10.4 million, or $1.4 million higher than net loan charge-offs. The allowance for loan losses increased to $155.9 million at December 31, 2016, or 1.16% of period end loans. Total non-performing assets decreased $1.9 million from the previous quarter to $14.6 million this quarter."
Total assets at December 31, 2016 were $25.6 billion, total loans were $13.4 billion, and total deposits were $21.1 billion. During the quarter, the Company signed an agreement to purchase a new core deposit system from Temenos Group AG which is expected to be implemented in 2019. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Company distributed a 5% stock dividend on its common stock. The Company also paid a cash dividend of $.214 per common share, as restated for the 5% stock dividend, and an annualized 6% cash dividend on its preferred stock this quarter.
Commerce Bancshares, Inc. is a registered bank holding company offering a full line of banking services, including investment management and securities brokerage. The Company currently operates in approximately 340 locations in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado. The Company also has operating subsidiaries involved in credit related insurance and private equity activities.
This financial news release, including management's discussion of fourth quarter results, is posted to the Company's web site at www.commercebank.com.