UPDATE 2-BancorpSouth Q4 profit beats; halves dividend

Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:05pm EST

* Q4 EPS $0.19 vs est $0.01

* Bad loan provisioning down 30 pct

* Slashes dividend to half

* Stock pares gains on dividend cut news

(Adds dividend cut, CEO statement, stock activity)

Jan 27 (Reuters) - Bank-holding company BancorpSouth Inc (BXS.N) posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates helped by lower loan loss provisions, but cut its quarterly dividend by half.

"In order to preserve and build upon BancorpSouth's already strong capital position, the Board of Directors declared a common stock dividend of 11 cents a share, down from 22 cents a share for the previous quarter," Chief Executive Aubrey Patterson said in a separate statement.

The stock, which was up 4 percent at $15.46 in trading after the bell, pared all gains to trade down 24 cents at $14.60.

For October-December, the company earned $15.8 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $2.1 million, or 3 cents a share last year.

Analysts on average expected the company to earn 1 cent a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Provision for credit losses fell 30.5 percent to $43.3 million.

Net interest revenue fell about 2 percent to $110.3 million. (Reporting by Abhinav Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Vyas Mohan)

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