Renasant (RNST) in Tupelo, Miss., posted a big increase in quarterly profit following its recent purchase of First M&F.

The company's earnings rose 55% from a year earlier, to $11.3 million. At 36 cents per share, the company beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 9 cents.

Renasant's net interest income increased 49% from a year earlier, to $50.7 million. Excluding loans acquired from First M&F, the loan portfolio increased 12% from the end of 2012, to $2.9 billion. The net interest margin expanded by 19 basis points, to 4.16%.

The company's purchase of First M&F helped drive noninterest income up by 2% from a year earlier, to $18.3 million. The merger increased service charges, fees and commissions on loans and deposits, and fees and commissions on wealth management and insurance services. Those gains helped offset lower mortgage banking income, which fell because of higher interest rates and a drop in refinancing activity.

Noninterest expense rose 33% from a year earlier, to $51.1 million. Renasant took on First M&F's operational costs and paid $1.9 million in merger expenses.

The $5.7 billion-asset company cut its loan-loss provision in half from a year earlier, to $2 million. It recorded $584,000 in net chargeoffs in the fourth quarter, down 84% from a year earlier.

"During the [First M&F] conversion … we added more than 70,000 deposit relationships and 27 [branches] while consolidating nine locations that overlapped," Renasant Chairman and Chief Executive Robin McGraw said in a press release. "We remain well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities to enter new markets or expand our reach in existing markets."

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