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Hancock Holding sees post-merger earnings soar

GOLFPORT — Hancock Holding Co. says profit in 2012’s second quarter more than doubled from the first quarter, as merger expenses dropped sharply.

The regional bank posted profit of $39.3 million, or 46 cents per share. That’s up from $18.5 million, or 21 cents per share in 2012’s first quarter.

Hancock took over Whitney National Bank in June 2011, and quarterly profits from 2011’s second quarter aren’t comparable.

Merger expenses fell from $33.9 million to $11.9 million. Factoring out those expenses, Hancock posted operating profit of 55 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet had estimated operating profit of 58 cents per share, on average.

Hancock’s loan portfolio continued to shrink, falling by $52 million to $11.1 billion. The bank said that commercial real estate loans, including some that were distresses, continued to be paid off. Hancock said there are “limited opportunities to make fresh commercial” real estate loans. Much of the decline came from a loan portfolio Hancock inherited when it took over Florida’s failed Peoples First Community Bank in 2009. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shoulders the majority of losses on most of those loans.

Hancock did say that business, residential mortgage and consumer loans were increasing, and that $400 million in new loans had been made during the quarter. It said most loan activity was in its western Louisiana, New Orleans and Tampa, Fla., regions.

The company’s return on assets, a key measure of bank profitability, rose to 0.83 percent in the quarter. Using operating profit, the measure rose to 1 percent, about even with the industry average in the first quarter of 2012.

“We will continue to focus on improving that return through increasing loan volumes, developing additional revenue opportunities and achieving additional expense synergies,” CEO Carl Chaney said in a statement.



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