Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Jan 24, 2020 • 09:30 am ET

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Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

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Presentation
Operator
Operator

Good day, and welcome to the Ameris Bancorp Fourth Quarter 2019 Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please note this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Nicole Stokes, Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead.

Executive
Nicole S. Stokes

Thank you, Sarah, and thank you to all who have joined our call today. During the call, we will be referencing the press release and the financial highlights that are available on the Investor Relations section of our website at amerisbank.com.

I'm joined today by Palmer Proctor, our CEO; and Jon Edwards, our Chief Credit Officer. Palmer will begin with some opening general comments and I will discuss the details of our financial results before we open up for Q&A.

Before we begin, I'll remind you that our comments may include forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties. The actual results could vary materially. We list some of the factors that may cause result to differ in our press release and in our SEC filings, which are available on our website. We do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, early development or otherwise, except as required by law.

Also during the call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures in reference to the company's performance. You can see our reconciliation of these measures and GAAP financial measures in the appendix to our presentation.

And with that, I'll turn it over to Palmer for opening comments.

Executive
H. Palmer Proctor Jr.

Thank you, Nicole, and thank you to everybody who's joined our call this morning. I'm excited to share a few highlights about the quarter in the year and then I'd like to spend some time discussing the plan and opportunities we have going into 2020.

For the quarter, we earned $66.6 million, or $0.96 per diluted share on an adjusted basis. This represents a 1.47% return on average assets and an 18.45% return on tangible equity. As expected, our efficiency ratio improved this quarter to 55.61% as we continue to realize our cost saves from the Fidelity acquisition. And for the year 2019, we earned $22.9 million, or $3.80 per diluted share on an adjusted basis and this is up 12% over 2018. This represents a year-to-date return on assets of 1.52% and an improvement from the 1.50% reported last year. I'm also pleased to report that our efficiency ratio improved during the year from 56.19% last year to 55.67% this year.

On our third quarter call, I reviewed, what we said we were going to do when we announced the Ameris and Fidelity merger and how we were tracking with those plans. And I'm pleased to say that we continue to be on track with the plans. The core data conversion, as many of you know was completed in November. It was planned as any conversion. We certainly identified some things we can do better next time, but overall, the conversion went very well. We also closed two additional branches in