Hancock Holding Co. in Gulfport, Miss., announced Monday that it had begun a $150 million common stock offering, just after reporting that its third-quarter earnings slipped 4.9% from the year earlier, but rose 10.7% from the second quarter, to $15.2 million.

The $6.8 billion-asset company said it could use the fresh capital to make acquisitions. Hancock has said previously that it would be open to bidding on failed institutions.

Carl J. Chaney, the company's president and chief executive officer, said in a press release that he was "pleased" by the quarterly earnings of 47 cents a share. He attributed the improvement from the preceding quarter partly to an 8-basis-point widening of the net interest margin, to 3.86%, because of declining deposit prices.

At $13.5 million, the provision for loan losses equaled net chargeoffs. The provision was up 67% from the year earlier but down 20% from the second quarter. The ratio of chargeoffs to average loans was 1.24%, up 82 basis points from the year earlier, but down 26 basis points from the prior quarter.

Nonperforming assets were up slightly, to 1.06% of loans and foreclosed property, compared with 1.01% at June 30. This ratio had been 0.59% the year earlier.

The company also touted its already strong capital cushion. It had a leverage ratio of 8.33%, well above the 5% needed to be considered well capitalized.

Its share price fluctuated in both directions Monday, ending the day at $36.70, up 0.47% from Friday's close.

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