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Renasant sees rise in post-M&F merger profits

TUPELO — Renasant Corp. says profit in 2013’s fourth quarter rose 55 percent in the first reporting period following its takeover of First M&F Corp.

Yesterday, Renasant posted quarterly profit of $11.3 million, or 36 cents per share. That’s up from $7.3 million, or 29 cents per share, in 2012’s fourth quarter. Because the period is the first full quarter after the Sept. 1 merger with fellow Mississippi bank, results aren’t strictly comparable.

For the year, profit rose 26 percent to $33.5 million, or $1.22 per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet estimated 36 cents per share for the quarter, on average, after $1.9 million in merger expenses for the quarter were factored out. Renasant reported 40 cents per share on that basis.

For the year, analysts estimated $1.30 per share not counting one-time expenses. Renasant reported $1.38 excluding one-time items.

The bank closed nine overlapping branches when it took over Kosciuscko-based First M&F. Chairman and CEO E. Robinson McGraw said Renasant was focused on making its $143 million stock purchase of the bank pay in 2014.

“We remain well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities to enter new markets or expand our reach in existing markets,” McGraw said in a statement. “As we move into 2014, we look forward to enhancing our profitability by further realizing the benefits of the M&F acquisition, growing loan and deposit relationships and increasing our market share, to provide greater value for our shareholders.”

The company set aside $2 million to cover future bad loans in the quarter, down from $4 million in 2012’s fourth quarter.

Return on average assets, a key measure of bank profitability, rose to 0.78 percent in the fourth quarter. That’s the highest in at least two years, but still below nationwide averages.

The company said that new loans, not counting the ones it acquired along with First M&F, grew 12 percent over the year to $2.9 billion.

The amount that the company collected in interest from borrowers, net of what it paid out to savers, rose to $50.7 million. The net interest margin, a measure of that spread divided by all loans, rose to 4.16% in 2013’s fourth quarter, up from 3.97% for the fourth quarter of 2012. That spread is traditionally a basic ingredient of bank profits.

Based in Tupelo, the $5.75 billion bank has offices in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

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