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Commerce announces 17% rise in earnings

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Commerce Bancshares Inc. announced earnings of $34.5 million for the quarter that ended March 31, which represented a 17 percent increase over the $29.4 million in earnings for the same quarter in 1997. The figures represent earnings per share of 58 cents for the first quarter, a 16 percent increase from earnings of 50 cents per share last year.

In a release, Commerce Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David W. Kemper said it was the company's eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in earnings per share. He noted that loan growth increased 10 percent on an annualized basis and fee income was up 17 percent compared to the first quarter of 1997.

Total assets for Commerce were $10.4 billion March 31. Total loans were $6.4 billion and total deposits were $8.7 billion on that date.

During the quarter, Commerce announced a three-for-two stock split

in the form of a 50 percent stock dividend.

Commerce reported $104 million in net interest income for the quarter, up from $93.8 million reported for the period in 1997. Non-interest income was $49.96 million in the 1998 quarter, compared to $41.56 million in 1997.

Commerce Bancshares Inc. is the bank holding company of Commerce Bank and has operating subsidiaries in mortgage banking, credit-related insurance, venture capital and real estate activities. The company operates about 280 locations in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas.

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