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First Bancshares (FBMS) Announces $50M Share Repurchase Plan

The First Bancshares, Inc.’s FBMS board of directors approved a share repurchase program for 2023, under which, the company may repurchase shares worth up to $50 million.

The new share repurchase program will expire on Dec 31, 2023.

Since the buyback program announcement, shares of the company have declined marginally.

In addition to share buybacks, the company pays regular quarterly dividends.

In January 2023, its board of directors approved a 5% increase in the quarterly common stock dividend from $20 to $21 per share. The dividend was paid out on Feb 24 to shareholders of record as of Feb 8, 2023.

Prior to this hike, FBMS raised its dividend by 5.2% in October 2022.

Considering the last day’s closing price, First Bancshares’ dividend yield currently stands at 2.7%. The yield is not only attractive to investors but it also represents a steady income stream.

In the last five years, the company raised its quarterly dividend 13 times. It has a five-year annualized dividend growth of 37.5%. Currently, the company's payout ratio is 26% of earnings.

Such efforts not only reflect the company’s commitment toward returning value to shareholders but also mirror its healthy position to endure severe economic downturns.

Capital deployment aside, the company has been focused on inorganic efforts. Effective Jan 1, 2023, it closed its acquisition of Heritage Southeast Bancorporation, Inc., in its efforts to expand its presence in Southern Georgia and set foot into the attractive markets of Atlanta and Savannah, GA, and Jacksonville, FL. The buyout also adds $1.6 billion of assets and 24 locations.

Such buyouts will strengthen the company’s operations and enable it to continue efficient capital deployment activities.

Capital Deployment Efforts by Other Banks

Bank OZK OZK announced a cash dividend of 34 cents per share, marking a 3.03% increase from its prior payout. The dividend was paid out on Jan 24 to shareholders of record as of Jan 17.

This represents the 50th consecutive quarter of dividend hike by Bank OZK. Prior to this, OZK hiked its dividend by 3.1% to 33 cents per share in October 2022.

Washington Federal WAFD announced a quarterly cash dividend of 25 cents per share, reflecting a rise of 4.2% from the prior payout. The dividend will be paid out on Mar 10 to shareholders of record as of Feb 24.

Prior to the current hike, the company increased its dividend by 4.2% to 24 cents per share in January 2022. WAFD raised its quarterly dividend seven times in the last five years. Also, it has a five-year annualized dividend growth of 7.6%.

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