Bank of the Ozarks in Little Rock, Ark., reported higher quarterly profit that reflected improved credit quality and an immediate benefit from recently passed tax reform.

The $21.3 billion-asset company said in a press release that its fourth-quarter income rose 67% from a year earlier, to $146.2 million. The results included a $49.8 million tax benefit after the company revalued its deferred tax liability position. Excluding the tax benefit, profit rose by 9.7%.

Bank of the Ozarks' full-year earnings rose 56% from a year earlier, to $421.9 million.

“We are pleased to report our excellent results for 2017, including annual records for net income, diluted earnings per share and net interest income, excellent asset quality and continued strong growth in both the funded and unfunded balance of our non-purchased loans,” Chairman and CEO George Gleason said in the release.

Fourth-quarter net chargeoffs fell 37% to $1.9 million, allowing the company to reduce its loan-loss provision by 6% to $9.3 million.

Total loans increased by 10% to $16 billion. Organic loan growth was strong; non-purchased loans rose 33% to $12.7 billion. Deposits increased by 10.4% to $17.2 billion.

Noninterest income fell by 1.2% to $30.2 million, despite $1.2 million in securities gains and $1.9 million in gains from selling other assets. Deposit-related charges decreased by 14% to $10.1 million.

Bank of the Ozarks, an active acquirer after the financial crisis, has been idle for more than a year. In fact, 2017 was the first year since 2009 that the company did not announce or complete a whole-bank acquisition.

Bank of the Ozarks CEO George Gleason.
Bank of the Ozarks, historically a serial acquirer under CEO George Gleason, did not announced any whole-bank deals last year.

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