That compares to $13.3 million, or 16 cents a share, for the same period a year earlier.
Analysts had predicted earnings of 24 cents a share. BancorpSouth had beaten analysts expectations the previous four quarters. In the third quarter, the company earned 25 cents a share, beating estimates by 3 cents.
For all of 2012, BancorpSouth posted a profit of $84.3 million, or 90 cents a share. A year earlier, the Tupelo-based financial holding company earned $37.6 million, or 45 cents a share.
Said Dan Rollins, who was named president and CEO on Nov. 26, “While I was only a part of the team for the last month of 2012, I believe that the results reported for the year are the product of a lot of hard work and effort over a number of quarters to continue to improve the company’s credit quality and operating performance.”
Rollins succeeded longtime chief executive Aubrey Patterson, who remains chairman of the board.
The bank’s fourth quarter’s results reflected higher mortgage production of nearly $550 million. Also, it’s provision for loan losses – industry-speak for money set aside to cover bad loans – was only $6 million, compared to $19.3 million in the year-ago quarter.
Nonperforming loans – loans delinquent 90 days or more – dropped $88.7 million, or 27.5 percent, during the quarter compared to a year earlier.
BancorpSouth said its net interest margin was 3.44 percent, down from 3.69 percent from the end of 2011 and 11 basis points from the third quarter of 2012.
“As others in the industry have experienced, we continue to see pressure on the net interest margin as a result of repricing on the asset side of the balance sheet,” Patterson said. “Our securities portfolio continues to roll over at lower rates and loan yields are under pressure both prior to and at maturity. The importance of fee income generation and efficiency are becoming increasingly magnified as we work to navigate through this rate environment.”
Net interest revenue fell 6.2 percent to $100.9 million as a result of the smaller spread.
At the end of the year, BancorpSouth’s total assets were $13.4 billion, compared with $13 billion a year earlier. Total deposits were $11.1 billion, an increase of 1.2 percent.
Loans and leases, net of unearned income, were $8.6 billion, a decrease of 2.6 percent. Accounting for nearly three-quarters of that decrease was due to a nearly $173 million, or 19 percent decline in the bank’s CAD (construction, acquisition and development) loan portfolio.
Total annual net chargeoffs were $58.7 million for 2012, compared with $131.9 million a year earlier.
Nonperforming loans were $233.6 million, or 2.70 percent of net loans and leases at the end of 2012, compared with $322.3 million, or 3.63 percent of net loans and leases in 2011.
The bank’s allowance for credit losses was $164.5 million, or 1.90 percent of net loans and leases compared with $195.1 million, or 2.20 percent of net loans and leases in 2011.
BancorpSouth saw its credit and debit card fee revenue rise to $8.1 million during the fourth quarter, versus $7.8 million in the quarter a year earlier. Service charge revenue was $13.9 million, compared with $17.4 million. Insurance commission revenue was $20.5 million, up from the $19.4 million posted in the year-ago quarter.
BancorpSouth’s released its earnings report after the financial markets closed. Shares of the company (NYSE: BXS) closed Wednesday at $15.12 a share, down a penny. The stock’s 52-week trading range has been between $11.18 and $15.59.
In addition, the company announced it would pay a dividend of 1 cent a share on April 1.