Home BancShares, Inc. of Conway, parent company of Centennial Bank, reported record breaking first quarter profits Thursday as the company continues to integrate operations of recently acquired Liberty BancShares, Inc. of Jonesboro.

Home BancShares announced first quarter earnings of $27.3 million or 42 cents per share compared to $17.5 million or 31 cents per share during the same quarter last year — up nearly 56 percent.

The company increased its first quarter earnings by $9.8 million or 55.8 percent compared to the same period the previous year.

Excluding the $849,000 of merger expenses associated with the recently completed acquisition of Liberty BancShares, Inc., Home BancShares would have diluted earnings of 43 cents per share.

Because acquisitions are growth and capital management strategies, earnings excluding amortization of intangibles after-tax are useful in evaluating the company, a news release said.

"The company has achieved yet another historically record quarter during the first quarter of 2014," Johnny Allison, Home BancShares chairman, said in a news release.

"Our team continues to be dedicated on working toward recognizing the anticipated cost savings as quickly as possible from last quarter’s acquisition of Liberty," he said. "I am looking forward to watching our team succeed in this process and pass along the results to our deserving shareholders."

Randy Sims, Home BancShares chief executive officer, gave examples of the company’s improvements during the first quarter including diluted earnings per share, interest margin and core efficiency ratio.

"Another important item of note for the first quarter of 2014 is a 1.67 percent return on average assets excluding merger expenses," he said in a news release.

"This ratio demonstrates we are making the necessary earnings improvements to get the acquired Liberty franchise up to our standards," he said. "I, for one, am pleased with the continued achievements the company has realized during the first quarter of 2014."

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)