Hancock Holding (HBHC) in Gulfport, Miss., reported lower quarterly earnings after taking a charge tied to branch closures and other expense reductions.

The $18.8 million-asset company said Thursday that its third-quarter net income fell 29% from a year earlier, to $33.2 million. Earnings per share of 56 cents beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by a penny.

Hancock recorded a $20.9 million expense item that was mostly tied to cost cutting efforts and efficiency improvements, goals that co-CEO Carl Chaney has emphasized in recent calls with analysts. The company closed 26 branches on Aug. 30, and plans to sell another 10 branches. Hancock expects to complete the branch sales in the next two quarters.

Excluding these charges, Hancock's noninterest expenses fell 5% from a year earlier, to $161.3 million. Its headcount fell by 5% from the third quarter of 2012, to 4,068.

Net interest income fell by 2% from a year earlier, to $174.1 million, as its net interest margin narrowed by 31 basis points, to 4.23%. Noninterest income dipped 1% from a year earlier, to $63.1 million, on lower securities gains.

The loan-loss provision fell 7% from a year earlier, to $7.6 million, and net chargeoffs declined by 55%, to $5.9 million.

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