Quarterly results at several acquisitive community banks this week showed the short-term pluses and minuses of mergers and acquisitions.

Hancock Holding Co., of Gulfport, Miss., reported third-quarter profits were up sharply from a year earlier on gains from buying Whitney Holding Corp. of New Orleans.

Two profit-skewing temporary items hurt Home Bancorp Inc. of Lafayette, La. — higher merger expenses from buying GS Financial Corp. in Metairie, La., and a gain from settling a lawsuit in the prior quarter that inflated its May-to-June numbers.

And United Bankshares Inc., of Charleston, W. Va., reported higher profits because it set aside less money to cover bad loans. Its purchase of Centra Financial Holdings Inc. of Morgantown, W. Va. added extra revenue that offset merger expenses.

It is too early to call any of their deals a success or bust. It can take a year or more to realize the full savings from eliminating redundant people and systems. Merger expenses last several quarters. Adding a bunch of new loans and securities tends to immediately boosts margins, but there is a difference between attracting new customers and not losing the ones that used to bank at the company purchased. These things take multiple quarters to sort out.

Of the three, only the $19.4 billion-asset Hancock has booked a full-quarter of post-merger earnings, having closed its purchase of the $11.7 billion-asset Whitney in June.

"The integration continues to progress as scheduled," Carl Chaney, Hancock's chief executive, said in a conference call with analysts on Monday.

Hancock earned $30.4 million, or more than twice what it earned in the trailing quarter and a year earlier. That reflects Whitney's substantial boost to its fees, loan interest and margin. Chaney said the deal's merger and cost savings are in line with expectations: it booked merger savings of $15 million in the quarter while merger expenses were $23 million.

The $1 billion-asset Home Bancorp earned $923,000, down 27% from the prior quarter and up 1% from a year earlier. The second quarter included a $525,000 litigation settlement gain. It bought GS Financial in July, and the addition of that company's loans and securities boosted its interest income and margins. But merger expenses were $1.4 million in the most recent quarter.

The $8.6 billion-asset United Bankshares earned $20 million, up about 15% from both comparable quarters. Its top line was pressured by two things: $7.9 million in securities impairment charges, and a 17% spike in expenses largely due to buying the $1.3 billion-asset Centra, which it acquired in July. Centra's assets also helped boost net interest income and margins.

Meanwhile, S&T Bancorp Inc. in Indiana, Pa., said its pending deal for Mainline Bancorp Inc. would help its bottom line. The $4.1 billion-asset company earned $12.2 million, down 9% from the prior quarter and up 12% year over year. The Mainline acquisition, scheduled to close in the first quarter, would increase S&T's share of two markets where it operates in central Pennsylvania, S&T said in press release.

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