An improving picture in the energy sector helped Hancock Holding in Gulfport, Miss., reported a huge jump in fourth-quarter profit.

The $24 billion-asset company’s net income increased to $52 million from $15 million in the previous year period. Earnings per share rose 8% to 64 cents.

Net interest income rose 6% to $168 million. The provision for loan losses fell to $14 million from $50 million. In past quarters, Hancock was forced to record a large provision to cover bad energy loans. As recently as the first quarter of 2016, for example, Hancock recorded a $60 million provision, of which $50 million was tied to energy lending.

Hancock is still writing off nonperforming energy loans. The company recorded $12 million in chargeoffs from energy loans in the fourth quarter and it expects to record an additional $23 million to $53 million by the end of the current energy downturn. Hancock had $1.4 billion in energy loans at Dec. 31, about 8.4% of total loans.

Loan balances rose 7% to $16.8 billion on increased demand for commercial-and-industrial, residential mortgage and commercial real estate loans.

Noninterest income rose 10% to $66 million on an increase in secondary mortgage market income and the sale of bank-owned property.

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Andy Peters

Andy Peters

Andy Peters writes about regional banks, consumer finance and debt collections for American Banker.