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Hancock sees earnings climb post-merger

GULFPORT – Just off its pre-Christmas announcement of a planned acquisition of Gulf South competitor Whitney National Bank, Hancock Holding Co. is reporting a fourth quarter net income increase of 14.6 percent over the previous quarter and 27.9 percent over the fourth quarter of 2009.

New Orleans-based Whitney Holding Corp., parent of Whitney National Bank, is scheduled to announce its earnings before the market opens on Jan. 27.

Though it reports income increases for the fourth quarter, Gulfport-based Hancock Bank, a subsidiary of Hancock Holding Co., says its net income for the full 2010 year amounted to $52.2 million, down 7.3 percent from 2009’s net income of $56.3 million. Diluted earnings per share for 2010 were $1.40, versus $1.70 for 2009, excluding items related to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-assisted acquisition in the summer of Peoples First Community, Panama Beach, Fla.

Hancock put its earnings per share for the fourth quarter at 46-cents, compared to 40-cents for the 2010’s third quarter and 37-cents for the same quarter a year ago.

The bank said its return on average assets increased to 0.83 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010, from 0.70 percent for 2010’s third quarter.

Hancock’s $1.5-billion acquisition of Whitney is expected to be completed in the second quarter. Hancock said it expects to retain its strong capital position after an expected common stock raise of about $200 million, and anticipates repurchasing Whitney’s $300 million of TARP preferred stock and warrants held by the U.S. Treasury, subject to regulatory approval.

Hancock’s president and CEO Carl J. Chaney called the acquisition said of the five-state regional bank “an unprecedented opportunity to enhance shareholder value and strengthen the financial options available to our customers across the combined company’s footprint.”

Contrary to some media reports, Chaney insists Hancock will maintain its multi-state banking headquarters in Gulfport. He said he will oversee the combined financial companies.

Whitney will keep its name for its Louisiana and Texas locations and put the Whitney name on current Hancock locations in Louisiana. The Whitney headquarters is to remain in New Orleans, according to Chaney.

In addition to Mississippi and Louisiana, Hancock has locations in Alabama and Florida.

Whitney serves the five-state Gulf Coast region stretching from Houston, Texas, across southern Louisiana and the coastal region of Mississippi, to Central and South Alabama the panhandle of Florida and the Tampa Bay metropolitan area of Florida.


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