Whitney Holding Corp. in New Orleans swung to a net loss of $11.1 million, or 22 cents a share, in the first quarter as credit costs continued to escalate.

Problem loans rose faster in Texas and Louisiana than in Florida, home to the largest portion of Whitney's troubled credits.

The $12 billion-asset company increased its provision 44.4% from the previous quarter and more than quadrupled it from a year earlier, to $65 million. The allowance as a percentage of nonperforming loans fell 49 basis points from the previous quarter, to 53.02%.

Whitney posted net income of 12 cents a share for the fourth quarter and 45 cents for the first quarter of last year. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had called for a loss of 6 cents.

By midafternoon Whitney shares had fallen about 12% from Wednesday's close, to $11.87 a share.

Criticized loans increased 15% from the fourth quarter, to $883 million, or about 10% of its portfolio. More than half the increase was made up of commercial and industrial loans in Louisiana and Texas, and most of the rest came from commercial real estate loans in Florida.

Total loans fell 1.4% from the fourth quarter but rose 15.9% from a year earlier, to $9 billion at March 31. Whitney cited falling demand and said it does not expect that to change soon.

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