Hancock's return on average assets, on an operating basis, was 0.98% for the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to 1.07% in the third quarter of 2012, and 0.93% in the fourth quarter a year ago.The Company's pre-tax, pre-provision profit for the fourth quarter of 2012 was $89.2 million compared to $78.5 million in the third quarter of 2012 and $76.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Pre-tax pre-provision profit is total revenue (TE) less non-interest expense and excludes merger-related costs, securities transactions gains or losses and the sub debt redemption expenses. Included in the financial tables is a reconciliation of net income to pre-tax, pre-provision profit. "The bulk loan sale completed at year-end was a prudent and effective use of the Company's strong capital position in reducing both nonperforming assets and the costs associated with carrying these assets," said Hancock's President and Chief Executive Officer Carl J. Chaney. "This quarter we also realized the full level of expense savings that we had targeted for the Whitney acquisition. Now that we have reached this milestone and completed the systems integration back in March, we are fully focused on our future as one strong consolidated company. " Highlights & Key Operating Items from Hancock's Fourth Quarter Results Total assets were $19.5 billion at December 31, 2012, up $0.9 billion from September 30, 2012. The increase is mainly related to temporary sources of excess liquidity as noted in the deposit section below. Loans Total loans at December 31, 2012 were $11.6 billion, up $143 million, or 1%, from September 30, 2012. Excluding the FDIC-covered portfolio, which declined approximately $40 million during the fourth quarter, and excluding the reduction from the bulk loan sale of approximately $40 million, total loans were up $223 million, or approximately 2%, linked-quarter. This compares to an increase of $388 million, or 4%, during the third quarter of 2012.