Improved asset quality helped BancorpSouth (BXS) boost its quarterly profit.

The Tupelo, Miss., company earned $24.9 billion in the third quarter, up 5% from the same period in 2012, it reported Monday. Its earnings per share were 26 cents, missing the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 2 cents. The company's stock gained nearly 2% following the earnings announcement, rising to $21.58 a share on Tuesday morning.

Net interest revenue decreased 3%& from the same period a year ago, to $100.2 million and the net interest margin tightened by 10 basis points, to 3.55%, as total assets shrunk by 2%, to $12.9 billion. BancorpSouth lowered its provision for loan losses to $500,000 from $6 million as its net chargeoffs fell 41%, to $7.6 million.

Noninterest revenue fell 11%, to $62.5 million, as mortgage banking revenue fell 68%, to $5.4 million. Revenue from card fees and insurance commissions rose.

BancorpSouth successfully trimmed overhead costs last quarter. Noninterest expense fell 3%, to $129.4 million, as compensation and occupancy costs ticked down. Dan Rollins, who was hired to be the company's chief executive last year, has said that cost-cutting would be a priority.

BancorpSouth redeemed $125 million worth of trust-preferred debt last quarter, which resulted in a $2.9 million charge. The company expects the redemption to reduce its interest costs by $9.1 million a year.

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