Equity Bancshares earnings rise; company looking at M&A opportunities

Equity Bancshares earnings rise; company looking at M&A opportunities

Wichita-based Equity Bancshares, the holding company of Equity Bank, reported earnings this week that topped analyst estimates while saying it is having "active conversations" with multiple companies about potential partnerships.

The company reported first-quarter 2022 earnings of $0.93 per share, beating consensus estimates of $0.63 per share. Equity’s $15.7 million in net income for the quarter came in $5.2 million higher than the previous quarter.

"Our earnings were both very strong and surpassed expectations," said Brad Elliott , Equity Bancshares chairman and CEO, on Wednesday’s earnings conference call.

The company credited the boost in net income to increases in loan and investment security interest income, and decreases in non-interest expenses.

Equity also noted the economic benefit during the quarter from its previous American State Bancshares and Almena State Bank acquisitions. On the conference call, Elliott said the bank is having "active conversations with several different companies about partnering."

"Equity continues to be ready and willing to act as a partner to banks that fit and compliment our organization, provided they assist Equity in making progress toward stated financial profitability goals," said Elliott, who said cultural and geographic fit are also among the important elements in determining if merger and acquisition activity makes sense for the organization.

Among Equity’s other stated Q1 highlights, it saw 14.53% period-over-period growth in loans held for investment, excluding the impact of PPP assets. It also highlighted that it "continued to position itself in the event of the realization of losses following economic turmoil domestically due in part to inflation and monetary policy as well as geopolitical concerns arising from Russia’s actions in Ukraine."

The company is continuing to emphasize shareholder returns, as it repurchased 384,383 shares during Q1, at an average price of $32.21, and it continued its quarterly dividend program at $0.08 per share. Under the current repurchase program, Equity can purchase an additional 482,744 shares.

"We began 2022 as a franchise of nearly 70 bank locations in our four-state network and we’ve continued to sustain momentum in our first quarter with customers by being responsive and open, and providing additional products and services to our new communities," Elliott said in a news release. "Our first quarter reflects our approach as a brand, providing sophisticated and innovative solutions delivered with trusted expertise of bankers dedicated to local communities. As we continue to review opportunities to expand our brand via merger, our service and sales teams continue to boost organic growth, by […]

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