Ameris Bancorp (ABCB) on Friday, Jan. 20, reported a significant spike in net income for 2016.

The Moultrie, Georgia-based holding company for Ameris Bank announced a net income of $72.1 million ($2.08 per share) for the year ending Dec. 31. That was a big jump for Ameris, which reported a net income of $40.8 million ($1.27) at the end of 2015.

For the fourth quarter, Ameris released a net income of $18.2 million (52 cents per diluted share). That also was a jump considering Ameris recorded $14.1 million (43 cents) during Q4 2015, according to a press release. (See also: The Banking System: Commercial Banking - What Banks Do.)

“In 2016, we delivered a 39 percent increase in adjusted operating earnings per share by driving strong growth in revenue and managing operating expenses,” Ameris President and CEO Edwin Hortman Jr. said.

Investors reacted positively to the fourth-quarter earnings report as Ameris’ stocks closed Friday’s session trading at $43.20, an increase of 2.13 percent.

Founded in 1971, Ameris now has more than 100 full-service community banks and mortgage centers in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, listing total assets of more than $6.4 billion. Along with its current streak of 21 years of asset growth, Ameris has compiled 17 consecutive profitable quarters, according to the company. (See also: The Banking System: Commercial Banking - How Banks Are Regulated.)

Ameris’ organic loans increased by 21 percent during 2016, which represented an eight percent jump from the previous year. Among the financial institution's plans for 2017 include a focus of maintaining its recent organic growth pattern, Hortman said.

Sandler O'Neill downgraded Ameris’ stocks to Hold in September.

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