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Trustmark says profits rise in 2012's last quarter

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Regional bank Trustmark Corp. said profit in 2012's fourth quarter rose 14 percent from the same three months of 2011, as bad loans fell and the bank made more from writing new mortgages.

Trustmark said Tuesday it made a quarterly profit of $27.7 million, or 43 cents per share, up from $24.3 million, or 38 cents per share, in 2011's fourth quarter.

Analysts polled by FactSet had estimated 44 cents per share, on average.

For the year, Trustmark posted $117.3 million in profit, up 10 percent from $106.8 million in 2011. On a per-share basis, profit rose from $1.67 to $1.81.

CEO Gerald Host said that the bank's mortgage business recorded record profits as homeowners moved to refinance to take advantage of lower rates.

Though profit compared favorably to the last three months of 2011, it was lower than in the first three quarters of 2012, as the bank's income from interest paid on loans by borrowers continued to fall faster than the interest Trustmark is paying to savers. However, bad loans fell, offsetting the drop somewhat.

"Credit quality significantly improved in our banking business, which, in turn, increased profitability," Host said in a statement.

The bank said its return on average assets, a key measure of profitability, was 1.12 percent in the fourth quarter. That's above the 1.06 percent that all FDIC-insured banks made in the third quarter.

Trustmark said it's still on track to complete the $55 million acquisition of BancTrust Financial Group of Mobile, Ala., by March 30.

Based in Jackson, Trustmark has $9.8 billion in assets and currently has offices in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and Texas.