PURVIS, Miss. — Lamar Capital Corp. said that fourth-quarter earnings would fall well short of estimates because of trouble in its loan portfolio.

The $402 million-asset company is projecting earnings of zero to three cents per share, much lower than analysts’ 21-cent consensus and the 24 cents it earned the year earlier.

President and chief executive officer Kenneth Lott said Tuesday that Lamar would increase its loan-loss provision by $880,000 to $1 million from the $4.3 million reserve total a year earlier.

He said that certain customers’ businesses were “adversely affected by the slowing economy and higher energy prices.”

Mr. Lott said the company anticipates earnings of 66 to 68 cents for the year, compared with analysts consensus of 87 cents and 97 cents in 1999.

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