Though Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) cited expenses related to issuing chip-enabled debit cards, the company’s first-quarter earnings beat the prior year.

The Springfield-based operator of Great Southern Bank posted net income of $11.5 million, a nearly 18 percent increase from $9.8 million a year earlier, according to a news release.

"Our financial performance in the first quarter of 2017 was solid,” Great Southern President and CEO Joe Turner said in the release. “We had a few unusual items during the quarter, but in total those items did not significantly impact our results.”

First-quarter financial notes:
    •    The company spent $373,000 issuing new chip-enabled debit cards to customers.
    •    Late charges and fees on two large commercial loans resulted in unusual income of $502,000.
    •    Net interest income dropped 6 percent to $38.7 million.

Great Southern held assets of $4.4 billion and deposits of $3.7 billion as of March 31. The company has 104 branches in Missouri and five other states, as well as commercial lending offices in Chicago, Dallas and Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the release.

GSBC shares were trading at $48.63 as of 8:40 a.m., compared with a 52-week range of $34.48 to $56.70.