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WorldCom still on top in Magnolia State

Banking prominent among top public companies

It`s no surprise that WorldCom is far and away the largest publicly traded company in Mississippi according to market capitalization – $41.4 billion compared to the second place $1.6 billion – but it may come as a surprise that four of the top 10 public companies are bank holding companies.

Small to regional banks have weathered the economic downturn well because they had already gone through consolidation,” said Ashby Foote, president of Vector Money Management in Jackson. “They weren`t in an expansion phase trying to meet estimates of increased demand.”

Chris Kelley, senior equity analyst with Morgan Keegan, added, “Mississippi hasn`t experienced as much consolidation as other states, where out of market banks have acquired its holding companies.”

Leland R. Speed of Jackson is chairman of two of the top 10 – EastGroup Properties and Parkway Properties – and also on the board of directors of another one, ChemFirst.

Scott-based Delta Pine and Land and Biloxi-based Isle of Capri round out the list.

Here`s a snapshot of the top 10 publicly traded companies, by market capitalization, in Mississippi:

1. WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM) – Market Capitalization: $41.4 billion

ClINTON – The group formerly known as MCI WorldCom, WorldCom operates one of the world`s leading facilities-based communications networks, including an Internet protocol (IP) backbone system (UUNET) that spans six continents. The telecom giant recently gained a controlling interest in managed hosting provider Digex when it acquired Intermedia.

Earlier this year, WorldCom split into two tracking stocks. One tracking stock, WorldCom Group (Nasdaq: WCOM), represents the performance of the high-growth portion of WorldCom`s core business that includes international data, Internet and commercial voice businesses.

In the last three years, more than 90% of the company`s operating revenues were derived from communications services. Another tracking stock, MCI Group (Nasdaq: MCIT), reflects WorldCom`s consumer long-distance empire.

During the second quarter of 2001, WorldCom Group reported revenues of $5.4 billion, a 12% increase from the same period last year. On Aug. 9, WorldCom hit a 52-week low of $12.95 per share. WorldCom`s revenues have traditionally been the highest during the fourth quarter, except for last year, when third quarter sales increased 26%.

2. Trustmark Corp. (Nasdaq: TRMK) – Market Capitalization: $1.6 billion

JACKSON – The holding company for Trustmark National Bank, Trustmark has 155 locations in 50 Mississippi communities, including retail branches located in Wal-Mart, Kroger`s and Albertson`s stores. Following the acquisition of Barrett Bancorp, Trustmark entered the Tennessee market, primarily via Memphis.

Focusing primarily on individuals and small businesses, Trustmark`s principal activities include retail and commercial banking, indirect and real estate lending and investment and trust services. Its loan portfolio consists of 30% residential real estate loans, 20% business loans, 20% consumer loans, with the balance in agricultural, commercial real estate and construction loans. Last year`s revenues were derived from interest and fees on loans (56%), other interest income (23%) and non-interest income (21%).

At the fiscal year-end in December, sales totaled $612.7 million, reflecting an 11.4% one-year sales growth. Net income increased 3.8% to $101.7 million. Trustmark employed 2,273 people, a 1.3% increase over the previous year.

For the six months ended June 30, Trustmark`s net income totaled $53.2 million, total loans of $4.36 billion, total assets of $7.15 billion, total deposits of $4.35 billion and shareholder`s equity of $667.8 million.

“With Trustmark, the numbers have certainly had a good turn in profitability over the last few quarters under new management,” said Kelley. “They just closed on the bank in Memphis, which takes them right into Shelby County for the first time. We`ll be watching to see how they fare in that market. Their earnings and stocks have been doing extremely well.”

3. BancorpSouth Inc. (NYSE: BXS) – Market Capitalization: $1.39 billion

TUPELO – A bank holding company with commercial and financial services operations in more than 230 branches in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, BancorpSouth`s principle activities include commercial and retail banking services, personal and corporate trust, agency and investment services, consumer lending, credit life insurance, investment brokerage and the sale of insurance products.

Real estate mortgages represent more than two-thirds of its loan portfolio. Since the early 1990s, BancorpSouth has aggressively acquired banks to expand its interstate operations.

At year-end, the company and its subsidiaries reported total assets of approximately $9.04 billion and total deposits of approximately $7.48 billion.

For the first six months of 2001, BancorpSouth reported net income of $45.6 million, compared to net income of $52.6 million for the same period last year. BancorpSouth has approximately 3,869 employees.

“BancorpSouth is still in the midst of consolidating its biggest ever acquisition,” Kelley said. “To date, they`ve done a good job of hitting their targets in expense savings and things like that, but haven`t quite turned the corner into profitability. We look for that into 2002.”

4. Delta and Pine Land Co. (NYSE: DLP) – Market Capitalization: $774.6 million

SCOTT – Delta and Pine Land Co. breeds, produces and distributes cotton and soybean planting seeds. The company farms 2,600 acres for seed operations. D&PL`s plant breeding programs develop a gene pool vital to producing cotton varieties with improved agronomic traits needed by farmers and textile manufacturers. Last year, a majority of the company`s international sales were primarily in Australia, China, Greece and South Africa.

For the second quarter of 2001, D&PL sales totaled $139.3 million, a drop of 21.4%, from $177.3 million, the same period the previous year. However, D&PL sales totaled $301.18 million for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2000, a 15.6% increase over the previous year and the fifth consecutive year of sales increases.

“Agriculture has been hit hard this year,” Foote said. “Cotton is at a 15-year low. It`s been tough. Hopefully demand will pick up around the end of the year.”

5. Hancock Holding Co. (Nasdaq: HBHC) – Market Capitalization: $459.8 million

GULFPORT – The bank holding company for Hancock Banks of Louisiana and Mississippi, Hancock Holding Co. operates 91 banking offices and 130 ATMs with nearly 1,600 employees. Hancock provides commercial, consumer and mortgage loans and deposit services to individuals and small to mid-size businesses. The bank also provides real estate management, insurance, trust and discount investment brokerage services.

Last year, loan interest and fees represented 56% of the bank`s revenues, with other interest income accounting for 25% and non-interest income, 19%. Reported sales for 2000 were $265.6 million. For the second quarter of 2001, Hancock reported after tax earnings of $8.93 million.

“Hancock Holding is trying to build on their wealth management businesses and are frankly just leveraging the existing bank franchise,” Kelley said. “Now they`ve gotten into the Hattiesburg market with the Lamar acquisition which is their first new market in some time. We`ll look to see how well that goes.”

6. EastGroup Properties Inc. (NYSE: EGP) – Market Capitalization: $361.1 million

JACKSON – An equity real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on the purchase, ownership and development of industrial properties in major sunbelt markets in the U.S., EastGroup Properties` current portfolio consists of 17 million square feet of property and 913,000 square feet of properties under development. The

About Lynne W. Jeter

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