The Tupelo-based financial holding company and parent to BancorpSouth Bank posted first-quarter earnings of $22.9 million, or 25 cents a share, compared to a loss of $500,000, or a penny a share, a year ago. Its first-quarter profit also more than doubled its fourth-quarter showing of $13.3 million.
The results were better than expected, with analysts having estimated earnings of 16 cents a share. BancorpSouth also beat estimates in the fourth quarter, earning 16 cents a share, versus the 14 cents estimated.
"Our results for the first quarter reflect our highest level of quarterly earnings in over two years," said BancorpSouth Chairman and CEO Aubrey Patterson. "We are also pleased to report additional meaningful improvement in asset quality. Earnings for the quarter reflect decreases in credit costs as a result of asset quality improvement as well as another exceptional quarter for our noninterest revenue lines of business, particularly our mortgage operation."
Helping to power earnings was a reduction in the provision for credit losses to $10 million, versus $53.5 million a year earlier. The fourth-quarter provision was $19.3 million.
Also boosting earnings was a decline in non-performing loans by nearly a third, from $425 million to $285.2 million.
Total assets were $13.3 billion, compared with $13.5 billion a year ago. Total deposits were $11.1 billion, a fall of 3.3 percent from $11.5 billion. Loans and leases, net of unearned income, were $8.7 billion at March 31 a fall of 5.5 percent from $9.2 billion.
Net interest margin for the period was 3.66 percent, compared with 3.69 percent for both the first and fourth quarters of 2011.
Net charge-offs for the first quarter of 2012 were $23.3 million, compared with $52.1 million for the first quarter of 2011. Annualized net charge-offs were 1.06 percent of average loans and leases for the first quarter of 2012, compared with 2.24 percent for the first quarter of last year.
Noninterest revenue was $72.4 million for the quarter compared with $68.3 million a year ago.
Mortgage origination volume grew to $395.1 million, significantly higher than the $202.8 million generated in the first quarter of 2011.
Credit and debit card fees decreased $2.8 million, or 27.3 percent, from a year ago. Service charges were essentially flat for the comparable quarters and declined $2.3 million, or 13.2 percent, on a sequential quarter basis. Insurance commissions rose $600,000, or 2.7 percent.
BancorpSouth (NYSE: BXS) closed at $12.85 a share, down 10 cents. It reported its first-quarter earnings after the market closed.