Last week, Fitch Ratings reiterated its credit ratings on
Hancock Holding Company
). The step has been taken following the conclusion of the peer
review of 16 mid-tier regional banks. The group includes banks
with total assets ranging from $10-$36 billion.
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Fitch maintained Hancock's long-term and short-term Issuer
Default Ratings (IDR) at 'BBB' and 'F2', respectively. Further,
the agency affirmed the company's outlook at 'Stable'.
The rating affirmations came at the back of Hancock's traditional
operating policy, which has helped the company retain its
profitability even during the financial crisis. Moreover, strong
capital ratios are the other reason for the ratings reiteration.
Further, Hancock is gradually integrating Whitney Holding
Corporation, which it acquired in 2011. This acquisition has
resulted in a more spread-out loan portfolio, greater growth
prospects as well as the facilitated cross-selling products.
Along with this, Hancock is expected to continue its expense
management. Also, Fitch expects earnings to grow over the mid to
long term with significant loan growth and cross selling
However, Fitch is of the opinion that the advantage of the rating
outlook would diminish if the company seeks to perk up
profitability over a longer term. On the other hand, another
acquisition of the same proportion as the Whitney deal can bring
down the ratings if Hancock opts for a reshuffle of its own
Apart from Hancock, Fitch has affirmed the IDRs of
BOK Financial Corporation
Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc.
), among others. Sufficient capital levels, robust earnings and
funding profile of these companies, along with strong asset
quality, prompted Fitch to affirm the ratings.
Currently, Hancock retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).