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Heartland Financial USA sees more deals in future

Heartland Financial USA Inc. Chairman and CEO Lynn Fuller said the Dubuque, Iowa-based company continues to evaluate potential acquisition targets.

The combination of a common stock raise completed in November 2016 and the company's rising share prices "increases the likelihood of more M&A announcements to come," Fuller said during a Jan. 30 call to discuss the company's fourth-quarter 2016 results. The company announced a $29.07 million deal for Founders Bancorp in October 2016, and Fuller said the company remains committed to growing to $1 billion or more in assets in each state in which the company operates.

Company executives said they expect the Founders deal will close and be converted during the first quarter of this year.

Heartland reported fourth-quarter 2016 net income available to common stockholders of $19.1 million, or 74 cents per share.

Heartland Executive Vice President and CFO Bryan McKeag said during the call that the company expects loan and deposit growth on a percentage basis in the mid-single digits. Its tax-equivalent net interest margin should be stable but pull back a bit to between 4.05% and 4.10%, he added, though he also said interest rate increases could offset downward pressures.

The finance chief added that the company remains largely focused on deals that can be mostly paid for using the company's appreciating shares. "It makes sense for us to use our currency, given where it's trading," he said.