The capital markets continue to be choppy for community banking companies, as illustrated by a pair of announcements Friday.

Both Alliance Financial Corp. in Syracuse, N.Y., and Hancock Holding Co. in Gulfport, Miss., had launched offensive stock offerings in recent weeks, but reported starkly different outcomes Friday.

The $1.5 billion-asset Alliance called off its offering because of poor pricing, and the $6.8 billion-asset Hancock touted its pricing as being among the best for any banking company this year.

Observers said that offensive offerings are generally succeeding lately, though sometimes require sizable discounts.

Jack H. Webb, Alliance's president and chief executive officer, said in a press release that its $25 million offering had been "well received," but that market conditions had made the pricing unacceptable. He said the company could launch the offering again if conditions improve.

Hancock said it raised $175.5 million in its offering, with the shares selling for one of the lowest discounts of any public bank equity sale nationwide this year.

The shares priced Tuesday at $35.50, only 2.8% less than their closing price before the offering announcement, compared with an average discount exceeding 12% for the other offerings, according to Hancock.

The company, which operates 150 branches in four states, called the unusually tight discount and heavy investor interest a sign of confidence. It plans to use the fresh capital for growth, which might include making acquisitions.

Alliance and Hancock have held up well through the economic downturn. Alliance reported Oct. 14 that it earned $3 million in the third quarter, up 50% from the second quarter and flat compared with the year earlier. Its nonperforming assets were 0.72% of total assets at Sept. 30.

Like Hancock, Alliance had said it planned to use the proceeds from its offering for growth, including possibly buying banks, branches or lines of business.

But after its offering announcement Nov. 2, its stock price fell 17.5% within three days. On the news Friday, the stock rose 7.8%, to close at $24.55.

Hancock reported Oct. 19 that it earned $15.2 million in the third quarter, up 10.7% from the second quarter, but down 4.9% from a year earlier. Its nonperforming assets were 1.06% of loans and foreclosed property at Sept. 30.

Hancock announced its offering that same day and its stock price has fluctuated by less than $1 in the weeks since then. Its shares closed at $36.04 Friday.

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