Ameris Bancorp in Moultrie, Ga., reported a double-digit increase in profits thanks to an acquisition, organic loan growth and other factors.

The $6.5 billion-asset company said Monday that its third-quarter net income climbed 38% to $21.6 million compared with the same period last year.

Late in the first quarter Ameris completed its acquisition of the $502 million-asset Jacksonville Bancorp in Florida, and it finished the systems and data conversion in the second quarter.

Total loans rose 33% year over year, or $1.2 billion, to $4.8 billion in the third quarter, some of which was attributable to the acquisition. However, it said part of that growth — more than $220 million — was organic growth since the second quarter, after the Jacksonville Bancorp deal was done.

Ameris is pursuing some larger customers and is developing expertise in specialties such as small business lending and retail mortgage, allowing it to diversify beyond commercial real estate lending, Chief Executive Edwin W. Hortman Jr. said in a news release.

"We believe that our current pace of growth for 2016 can be sustained or even improved upon as we move into 2017," Hortman said.

Yet the company's net interest margin narrowed six basis points to 3.75%. Trends in the margin during the past year include "the effects of yield deterioration on loans and investments resulting from a persistently low interest rate environment," the company said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the company's loan-loss provision dropped 17.7% to $811,000.

Noninterest income jumped 15.6% to $28.8 million, but those gains were tempered by 9.9% increase in noninterest expenses to $53.2 million. Substantially all of Ameris' increase in operating expense came from additional pay and real estate costs related to the Jacksonville Bancorp acquisition and from additional compensation expenses related to specialty lending lines.

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