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Hancock Holding: 'Digesting' Whitney acquisition

GULFPORT — Hancock Holding Co., which operates Hancock and Whitney banks along the Gulf Coast, said yesterday that it is making progress in digesting last year’s Whitney acquisition.

Hancock merged with Whitney in June, making it hard to compare year-earlier results. The bank posted profit of $18.5 million, or 21 cents per share, in the first quarter. It made $19 million, or 22 cents per share, in 2011’s last three months.

Excluding $33.9 million in merger expenses, Hancock posted profit of $40.5 million, or 47 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected Hancock to earn an operating profit of 62 cents per share, on average.

President and CEO Carl Chaney said Hancock completed its conversion of Whitney’s operating systems in mid-March and now is focusing on wringing cost savings from the merger.

Chaney said profit was lower in the first three months of 2012 because of seasonal trends. “While the first quarter’s results are down from the last quarter, they are basically in line with our expectations,” he said in a statement.

Hancock put aside $10 million for future loan losses in the period. The bank’s total loan portfolio fell slightly to $11.1 billion. Unusually among banks, its construction and land development portfolio actually grew during the quarter.

Hancock operates as Hancock Bank in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and as Whitney Bank in Louisiana and Texas. The Gulfport company has $19.2 billion in assets.

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