Hancock Holding in Gulfport, Miss., reported a sharp rise in third-quarter profit, reflecting efforts to cut costs.

The $20 billion-asset company's earnings rose 40% from a year earlier, to $46.6 million. Earnings of 59 cents a share beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by a penny.

Operating expenses fell 18%, to $149 million, due to an "ongoing expense and efficiency initiative," the company said in a press release Friday.

Net interest income fell 5%, to $163 million. Total loans grew 14%, to $13.3 million, though the net interest margin compressed 58 basis points, to 3.81%.

Noninterest income decreased by 8%, to $57.9 million.

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