Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) in Little Rock, Ark., got an earnings boost ahead of its acquisition of a Houston bank.

The $4.8 billion-asset company made a profit of $24.4 million in the fourth quarter, up 18% from the same period in 2012, it said Friday. Per-share earnings of 66 cents were 1 cent higher than analysts polled by Bloomberg had forecast.

Bank of the Ozarks' net interest income rose 26%, to $55.3 million, as asset growth offset shrinking yield. Its loan and lease portfolio expanded by 24%, to $2.6 billion, while net interest margin tightened by 21 basis points, to 5.63%.

Bank of the Ozarks is set to grow further this year through the acquisition of Bancshares Inc., owner of the $301 million-asset Omnibank in Houston, for about $23 million, a deal many analysts view as a good fit and price for the Little Rock lender.

Bank of the Ozarks' noninterest income shrank by slightly more than 1%, to $18.6 million, due mainly to lower gains on asset sales. Its revenue from service charges rose 26%, to $6 million.

Its asset quality indicators were mixed but generally positive, as net chargeoffs fell 36%, to $1.5 million, while provision for loan losses grew by 13%, to $2.9 million. Nonaccrual loans and leases dropped by 4%, to $8.7 million.

Overhead costs rose 16%, to $34.7 million, as compensation and real-estate-occupancy costs rose.

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