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Great Southern ends year with improved earnings

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Despite an expense related to bonus payouts for employees, Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) ended 2017 with a better bottom line.

The Springfield-based operator of Great Southern Bank reported net income of $51.6 million for the year ended Dec. 31, a 14 percent increase from $45.3 million in 2016. Diluted share earnings rose 44 cents to $3.65 per share, according to a news release.

During the fourth quarter, Great Southern incurred a pretax expense of $1.1 million as it distributed cash bonuses to more than 1,200 employees, citing federal tax reform changes. The company also recorded a decrease in income tax expenses, resulting in a 2-cent increase in diluted share earnings for the three-month period.

“In the fourth quarter and into future periods, the company was and will be impacted by the recent federal tax reform legislation,” Great Southern President and CEO Joe Turner said in the release. “We anticipate that the tax changes will lower our effective tax rate in 2018 and future periods, benefitting our net income.”

Full-year financial notes:
    •    Contributing to the 2017 earnings, fourth-quarter net income rose 3.5 percent to $12.2 million.
    •    Net interest income for 2017 dropped 5 percent to $155.2 million.
    •    Salaries and employee benefits dipped 0.6 percent to roughly $60 million.

As of Dec. 31, Great Southern had assets of $4.4 billion and deposits of $3.6 billion. The company operates 104 branches and more than 200 ATMs in Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska, as well as commercial lending offices in Chicago, Dallas and Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the release.

Great Southern shares were trading at $52.40 as of 8:52 a.m., compared with a 52-week range of $47.25 to $58.45.

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