Updated Saturday, December 20, 2014 as of 11:35 AM ET

Fee Initiatives Lifted Trustmark's 3Q Earnings

Trustmark (TRMK) relied on fees and lower deposit costs to record higher quarterly earnings.

The Jackson, Miss., company’s earnings rose 2% from the second quarter and 9.5% from a year earlier, to $29.9 million. The company said in a press release late Tuesday that higher revenue from insurance commissions and mortgages helped boost its bottom line.

“Trustmark achieved another solid quarter of financial performance despite sluggish economic conditions and the prolonged low interest rate environment,” Gerard Host, the company’s president and chief executive, said in the release. “We continued building upon and expanding customer relationships. This was especially evident in our mortgage banking and insurance businesses.”

Mortgage production increased 11% from the second quarter and 51% from a year earlier, to $514.8 million. The overall loan portfolio shrank; Trustmark said it elected to sell a “vast majority” of its lower-rate, longer-term mortgages to the secondary market. The net interest margin contracted by 9 basis points from the second quarter and 11 basis points from a year earlier, to 4.06%.

Trustmark has been building out its insurance and commercial businesses, particularly in growth states like Texas, in an effort to diversity its revenue. Insurance revenue totaled $7.5 million in the third quarter and Trustmark booked $20 million in new commercial and industrial loans during the quarter. Wealth management revenues fell after the company sold and reorganized its proprietary mutual fund business, resulting in pretax cost of $1.2 million.

Credit quality continued to improve. Nonperforming assets, excluding loans covered by loss-sharing agreements, totaled $163.1 million, reaching their lowest level since 2008.

Host said the $9.9 billion-asset company has also “made progress” towards completing its purchase of the $2 billion-asset BancTrust Financial Group in Mobile, Ala. Host said he expects the deal to close during by the end of February.

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