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Renasant Corporation (NASDAQ:RNST)

Q4 2008 Earnings Call

January 21, 2009 10:00 a.m. ET

Executives

E. Robinson McGraw – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Chapman – Chief Accounting Officer

Stuart Johnson – Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Brian Klock - KBW

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2008 Renasant Corporation Earnings Conference Call. My name is Chanelle and I will be your coordinator for you today. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today’s call Mr. Robinson McGraw, chairman and CEO. Please proceed.

E. Robinson McGraw

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us for Renasant Corporation’s fourth quarter 2008 earnings conference call. Joining me with this call today are members of Renasant Corporation’s Executive Management Team.

Before we begin, let me remind you that some of our comments during this call may be forward looking statements which involve risk and uncertainty. A number of factors could cause the factual results to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in the forward looking statements. Those factors include, but are not limited to, interest rate fluctuation, regulatory changes, portfolio performance and other factors discussed in our recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We undertake no obligation to update or revise forward looking statements to reflect changed assumptions at the occurrence of unanticipated events or changes to future operating results over time.

Looking back over the past year, 2008 was a very trying year for the financial services industry and our earnings results were impacted by the ongoing economic downturn. In the fourth quarter of ’08 we made a decision not to participate in the US Treasury Department’s Capital Purchase Program, which is part of the federal government’s turf. Our board of directors and senior management team extensively analyzed the terms and conditions of the program, and while we applaud the Treasury Department’s actions to help stabilize the financial market, after careful consideration we ultimately decided that the cost, uncertainty, and potential restrictions associated with participating in the program outweighed the benefits to run this by our shareholders. Thus, we made the decision that Renasant would not apply for the program’s funds.

Renasant is well capitalized pursuant to existing bank regulatory requirements, and based on projected balance sheet growth, we believe that our capital position coupled with future earnings will allow us to deal with the effects of the downturn in the economy. The company’s tier one leverage capital ratio was 8.34%; its tier one risk capital ratio was 10.85%; and its total risk based capital ratio was 12.1%, in each case, well in excess of regulatory minimum’s to be classified as well capitalized as of December 31st, ’08. I would like to point out that this is the fourth consecutive quarter in which we have grown these capital ratios.

Reflecting on our financial performance in 2008, net income was $24 million, as compared to $31.1 million for ’07. Basic and diluted earnings per share were $1.15 and $1.14 respectively for ’08, compared to basic and diluted earnings per share of $1.66 and $1.64 for ’07.

For the fourth quarter of ’08, net income was $232,000, as compared to $8, 755,000 for the fourth quarter of ’07.

Basic and diluted earnings per share were $0.01 for the fourth quarter of ’08, compared to basic earnings per share of $0.42 and diluted earnings per share of $0.41 for the fourth quarter of ’07. Total assets as of December 31st, ’08 were $3.72 billion, as compared to $3.61 billion in December 31st of ’07.

Total loans were $2.53 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of ’08, as compared to $2.59 billion at December 31st, ’07. Total deposits were $2.34 billion in December 31st of ’08, as compared to $2.55 billion during the same period in ’07.

As we discussed in prior calls, management made the decision in the first quarter of ’08 not to compete with those banks we believe were pricing their deposits above market rates. These higher market prices continued well into the fourth quarter of ’08. During the last few weeks of the year and into the first few days of ’09, we began to see signs that the deposit pricing in our markets is returning to a more normal environment. We expect that in the near future we will be able to actively garner deposits in our markets at rates up to $200 basis points below rates paid on deposits less than five months ago, and more in line with rates on alternative funding sources.

In December, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of North America announced that it was suspending the start of production of the Prius Hybrid in its new $1.3 billion automobile manufacturing facility. Construction is completed and the facility is now occupied by Toyota’s current management team. Toyota has made assurances to the state and local governments that its arrival is imminent and just being delayed. Giving further confidence, Toyota is honoring its financial commitments by making its initial payment of $10 million in debt service to the state and $5 million for local education, as it had earlier announced.

The plant is still expected to in initially supply 2,000 jobs with an estimated additional 2,000 jobs provided at this time what effect this delay will have on our mature northern Mississippi markets in the near term. Nevertheless, we still believe that the operation of the Toyota plant, the Toyota (inaudible), the Toyota Auto Body, and other anticipated tier one and tier two service providers enhance the future long term growth prospects in these markets.

Despite Toyota’s production delay, we were surprised and amused (ph) in northern Mississippi. Cooper Tire, which had conducted a fast study to close one of its four plants, decided to keep its Tupelo facility manufacturing open. This represented approximately 1,200 jobs staying in north Mississippi. Cooper may also move some of its production jobs from the factory it’s closing in Georgia to the Tupelo plant within the near future.

In addition to the Cooper Tire announcement, a group of northern Mississippi furniture manufacturer’s were designated to have foreign trade zone status by the federal government for 2009. This status helps these manufacturers’s avoid certain tariffs, stay competitive with foreign manufacturer’s, and most importantly, stays an estimated 950 jobs. This is according to the North Mississippi Community Development Foundation.

During the fourth quarter of ’08, net interest income was $109,437,000, an increase of 14.2% from $95,821,000 in ’07. The net interest margin was 3.44% for 2008, as compared to 3.57% for 2007. Net interest income was $26,842,000 for the fourth quarter of ’08, compared to $26,943,000 for the fourth quarter of ’07. During this same period, net interest margin decreased to 3.36% from 3.48%.

In looking at our asset quality data net charge-offs as a percentage of average loans for the year, ending December 31st of ’08, we are 55 basis points, compared to 14 basis points for ’07. Of these jobs, a sizable portion was rated to reduction of the large relationship we have discussed in previous conference calls. We concluded that the election process for this relationship could be long and, therefore, we believed it to be prudent to charge-down these two loans at this time.

Non-performing loans as a percentage of total loans, 1.58% in December 31st of ’08 compared to 0.63% as of December 31st, ’07 and 1.17% on a linked quarter basis. The company recorded a provision of loan losses of approximately $15 million and $22.8 million for the fourth quarter of ’08 and the year ending December 31st of ’08 respectively, as compared to approximately $2 and $4.8 million respectively for the same period in 2007.

We increased the provision for loan losses during ’08 in response to credit deterioration in our Residential Construction and Land Development loan portfolio. Some of this deterioration began surfacing in the fourth quarter and much during the last half of that quarter as our credit staff continued to analyze the direct and residual effects of the current economic environment on our loan portfolio.

Our analysis also focused on the potential adverse effects on (inaudible) liquidity from their operations based on the depth and length of the current recession, coupled with the loss of liquidity from investments because of the downturn in the equity markets. In fact, we chose to increase our reserves on certain loans that were not, or had just become, 30 days past due based on foreseeable credit deterioration and liquidity concerns.

The allowance for loan losses as a percentage of loans was 1.38% in December 31st of ’08, as compared to 1.02% for December 31st of ’07, and 1.11% at September the 30th of 2008.

During ’08 and in the midst of growing credit deterioration, we continued to proactively and aggressively analyze our entire loan portfolio. Our ongoing analysis is a result of a concerted effort to reduce our exposure to construction and development loans, which have been adversely impacted by the current economic turn-down.

During 2008, we reduced construction and development loans in our portfolio by approximately 37% from ’07. As we move into ’09, we believe this effort will help us to mitigate some of the future risks of our loan portfolio.

In addition to reducing our exposure to construction and development loans, we have an ongoing evaluation of quantitative and qualitative elements of our reserve methodology to ensure it is appropriate in our current economy. Factors from this evaluation would include economic conditions, changes in our portfolio composition, and our exposure to construction and development loans.

Looking into 2009, we believe that our allowance for loan losses combined with our projected quarterly provision for ’09 will allow us to absorb potential 2009 losses without another extraordinary provision in the absence of any unprecedented or extraordinary events.

It has also been our policy to proactively provide and reserve for credit deterioration before it is reflected on our non-performing loans to charge-offs. We will continue to make an allowance for loan-offs at an adequate level to absorb credit deterioration.

Our other real estate owned was $25.1 million at December 31 of ’08, an increase of approximately $3.2 million during the fourth quarter. During the quarter, we acquired approximately $7 billion and sold approximately $3.1 million, actually recognizing a slight gain in the process.

Year-to-date, we’ve sold $11.2 million of other real estate owned, netting a slight recovery from the total sales. Presently, we have either contracts or agreements to some additional $1.2 million of other real estate.

During the fourth quarter of ’08, we recognized an impairment charge of $700,000 on property we acquired earlier in the year by accepted deeds in lieu. We continue to monitor real estate values, particularly in more stressed markets and record evaluation allowances as deemed necessary.

(Inaudible) income continues to provide a strong source of revenue in the currently volatile interest rate environment. Our non-interest income was $54,042,000 for ’08 from $52,187,000 for ’07. Non-interest income was $12,751,000 for the fourth quarter of ’08 compared to $13,197,000 for the fourth quarter of ’07.

Non-interest expense was $107,963,000 for ’08, an increase of 10.1% from $98 million for ’07. Non-interest expense was $25,688,000 for the fourth quarter of ’08, compared to $25,443,000 for the fourth quarter of ’07. On a lead quarter basis, non-interest expense was down from $27,784,000 for the third quarter of ’08.

This late quarter $2.1 million decrease in non-interest expense was a result of a reversal of previously accrued performance based incentive payments, lower than anticipated healthcare costs, and salary savings from job attrition.

Also, early in ’09, we had a small workforce reduction in areas where employee service capacity was greater than the projected growth in certain markets for the foreseeable future. This resulted in a reduction of 4% of our work force. Although the aggregate amount of non-interest expense grew, the ratio of non-interest expense to average assets decreased to 2.76% for the fourth quarter of ’08 from 2.8% of the same period in ’07.

Looking into ’09, during the second week of January, we opened a new branch in the Greystone area of Shelby County south of Birmingham, which is a wealthy suburban shopping location. We believe this new location will serve us well as business grows in the Greystone area of Birmingham.

Also, Huntsville was recently named the best place in America to weather the recession by Forbes magazine. Huntsville, along with Decatur, is looking forward to an estimated 10,000 new jobs, averaging over $80,000 per year through a branch that should be in effect by 2011.

In closing my prepared remarks I would like to add that during our 104 year history, we have faced many challenges. While the current national situation is definitely a major concern, we believe that our experienced banking team, a strong capital position, and conservative business model should give confidence to both our shareholders and clients of the safety, security, and stability of Renasant Corporation.

Now Chanelle, I will turn it back over to you for questions.

Question–and–Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. (Operator instructions) And your first question comes from the line of Brian Klock of KBW.

Brian Klock - KBW

Hey, good morning gentlemen.

E. Robinson McGraw

Good morning, how are you, Brian?

Brian Klock - KBW

I am doing fine, thanks. Rob I know you went over some of the credit detail, but I wonder if you could go over those again. Looking forward the inflow is into non-performing loans and out and went into or (inaudible), maybe you can kind of go through those flows, inflows and outflows for the NPLs and ROEs again.

E. Robinson McGraw

Right, okay, lets go from a non-performers we had about $5.5 million of non-performers going into ROE we charged off by about $6.7 million of debt, that was a reduction in the other category little over $13 million we had about $21 million that went to non-accrual and about $1.3 million went over 90 but non-accrual or about $23 million that went in.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. And so, with the $23 million that went into NPL, can you give us some granularity as to collateral type geography?

E. Robinson McGraw

Yes, of that $23 million basically about three-fourth of it I think we can safely say was a construction and development and the other was just kind of spread I guess maybe 10% of it would be owner occupied and commercial real estate.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay, and is there anyone geography that you are seeing the weakness in?

E. Robinson McGraw

Yes, you can look probably about 75% of it depending in Memphis MSA which includes the DeSota County, Mississippi.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay, and Robin with that we both on the C&D which I know you have been talking about that for a while but also it seems like to the first time maybe you are seeing the commercial real estate there are going to see a little bit contingent?

E. Robinson McGraw

Well, actually the commercial real-estate that $2.8 million get really and truly I don’t think any of it was in that geography quite frankly one of them the largest credit which is about a little over third of it, was USDA guaranteed credit plan in Mississippi, fortunes of it were Mississippi type credits I think and looking at it one national credit so really and truly DeSoto County was not one of the areas of concern.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. Now I guess with the charge-offs you mentioned the $6.7 million of what was already and I tell you talked about the loan in the past, that was the C&D related loan?

E. Robinson McGraw

Correct.

Brian Klock - KBW

Alright.

E. Robinson McGraw

And the Memphis MSA. This is a relationship its two loans and we felt and we were in litigation and we feel that there will be a recovery at some point in time or anticipate just based on the facts in the case, but we just don’t like it's going to be prolonged and that at this point we felt that best to go ahead and take charge down on that particular loan and that was over half of this quarter, I mean that 6 million you were talking about.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay, and I guess the rest of the charge-offs in the quarter or two, another 1.5 million or so of net charge-offs, anything significant in Arizona -- again C&D related?

E. Robinson McGraw

At very, very high percentage of it was C&D actually three-fourth sub it was C&D the other was just kind of (inaudible) some other real estate and other types outside of the C&D and other real estate types was minimal.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. So I guess, just sticking with the C&D scene, how is the national market holding up and how are builder’s balance sheets in that market?

E. Robinson McGraw

Well, for the most part, our builders that we are dealing with in the national market, they are doing relatively well. We’re seeing medium priced homes that dropped in national in double digits now. Sales have been down on a year-over-year type basis. But for the most part, our exposure is not significant in the southern part of Williamson County area. Hence, therefore we are not experiencing a lot of debt aspect of it. But, we are right now -- although we have seen some of our national loans in over the past years.

For the most part, what we’re seeing difficulties. We have to not necessarily C&D but some other types of credits.

Brian Klock - KBW

And what kind of credit for that? Commercial related or C&I related credit you’ve seen?

E. Robinson McGraw

Some of them are consumer related, some haven’t yet considered commercial related. You’re seeing a little bit over occupied type properties out there. In fact, we don’t really -- we some one-half aspect type situations. But not any significant C&D type exposure.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

E. Robinson McGraw

And, you know, it’s just a slowdown. It’s a low percentage in comparison to what we’ve been, again, in the DeSoto County and Memphis.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. And I guess, when you think about the allowance and obviously you guys, to boost the provision increase of reserve, the loans ratio, and you talked earlier about, the current allowances, where it is and your projected quarterly provisions of 2009, would be enough to weather us through, can you give us kind of idea what you’re expecting your quarterly provisions to be in 2009?

E. Robinson McGraw

We expect the run-rate to probably be about 50% high than what was in third quarter.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

E. Robinson McGraw

Which would be about $4.5 million for the run-rate.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

E. Robinson McGraw

And again, the special provision that we made this quarter, of that a half percentage of it would not to any specific loans. As you know, we've had qualitative factors going in the past and we increased the C&D qualitative factor to about half, in fact half of our allowance that is specific to any particular loan is related to C&D and about half of the qualitative factors are specific to C&D.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. And I guess I think that.

E. Robinson McGraw

Brian, we're still running about 25% to 30% of our allowance is being qualitative as oppose to specific to any loan.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. And I know you have, when the 10-K comes out you'll kind of give us that the specific allocations by category. Would the specific allowance on the C&D, do you have an idea kind of what that ratio is so the specific allowance loan?

E. Robinson McGraw

50% or so. For the total specific part and 50% qualitative, so basically 50% of our allowance is related to C&D either specific qualitative.

Brian Klock - KBW

Got you. Okay, great. And I think Kevin, one last question and then I'll let someone else get on. How should we think about the reserve then going forward I guess, we know the provision level that kind of guessing, so that thing that we see some reserve build?

Kevin Chapman

Well, we are looking at a run rate much higher than what we have in the past let’s say.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

Kevin Chapman

As you look, Brian, and we did a pretty strong burn rate looking at our past dues that are over 30 days. And lot of theses just blips that are renewals that didn't get in the bucket before the end of the quarter.

But looking at the over 30 past dues and with the term allowance and the projected provision for 2009, we could charge off 23%, we get our 23% charge off rate on our fourth quarter past dues over 30 and still not had to have any kind extraordinary provision next year.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

Kevin Chapman

We think as we are conservative and looking at our portfolio.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. Thanks for the color. I appreciate it.

E. Robinson McGraw

You bet.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ben Harvey of Stephens Incorporated.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Good morning, guys.

E. Robinson McGraw

Good morning.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Thanks for taking my call.

E. Robinson McGraw

How are you?

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

I am doing great. Most of my questions have already been answered. I’ve got couple left here. To start of with Robin, your earlier discussion on the non-interest expense in the employee compensation is that something we should expect as run rate going forward let’s say fairly stable or will return close or back of those 3Q levels?

E. Robinson McGraw

Yes, it should be in probably the $14.5 million range give or take.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Got it.

E. Robinson McGraw

From quarter run rate.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Alright. So could you give me a little bit of color on how that breaks down from the increase in non-accruals we saw during the quarter combined with probably some of the compression from fed rate cut. And then again going forward you discussed that your deposit rates be coming down, 200 basis points earlier kind of what do we see going forward as far as the margin?

E. Robinson McGraw

In the fourth quarter 11 basis points of that decline -- of the margin was impacted by non-accruals that compares to about three basis points to prior quarter. So as you kind of analyze it out that you are looking at pretty close to a more flat to core margins on a linked quarter basis which we thought pretty good under the circumstances in the quarter. We have seen finally some downward movement in rates in the metro markets with the most pressure we've experienced on the rates that has been in our national Memphis and Birmingham markets. We are finally starting to see that rate pressure drop off to the extent within mid-market counts now and in the one and half to the low two range, depending on where it is even, to your see these in the three ranges.

We see one or two just out of market rates out there now but it's not like before. We've see some significant drops and we feel like as we say it that over the course of year we'll be back to growing deposits like we have in the past as opposed to having sat launch also some of the pricing has been so extraordinarily half.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

And, last I know you talked about this great deal operated based on some of its in terms of the is that still -- what's the composition there in terms of credit size is it several smaller credits or color on that?

E. Robinson McGraw

We have like one-to-four family of builders and developers about the lower than the $10 million, about $9 million of residential loss. About $3.5 million of one to four family consumer mortgages and room type properties about $2.5 million of commercial income properties.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Okay and on some of those larger credits of those kind of separated out to be different?

E. Robinson McGraw

Well, if you'll remember back to several quarters back we took these and loosed a barely significant credit in DeSoto County and that is a portion of both residential loss in the one to four homes but the balance over the none of the others are anyway near that large some of them are in the $1 million to $1.5 million range of some loss that came in or with one or two houses one it but for the most part we don’t have any substantial blocks. And quiet frankly as I mentioned, we have seen about $11 million of sales over the course of the last year and have another $1.2 million on the contract right now.

The good thing too in going back and looking in fact that we've had some slight gain and my question was do we buy in too cheaply, but actually going back and looking at those loans, we actually lost, I think overall between 3% maybe.

But if you take out one large credit, we actually lost that 20%. But if you take that one large credit that loss was about 7% to 8% on the balance of the portfolio, so we've done, and that was from the amount of loan at the time of foreclosure, so we actually have done pretty well with that portfolio overtime.

Ben Harvey - Stephens Incorporated

Okay. Well, that's all my questions. I appreciate you take them.

E. Robinson McGraw

You bet. Thank you.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). You have a follow-up question from the line of Brian Klock.

Brian Klock - KBW

Hey, guys.

E. Robinson McGraw

Hey, Brian.

Brian Klock - KBW

Stuart, with maybe some sort of modeling questions, I know Robin you already talked about that sort of normalized run rate for the personnel expenses. Looking at the fee income line, we did see linked quarter dropped in service charge and deposits and fees and commission revenues.

Obviously the recession sort of playing into that, but maybe you can kind of give us some color on what to expect, and maybe what kind of drove some of the linked quarter variance in those fee lines?

Stuart Johnson

Well, as you said economy-driven, the fees and commission obviously loan production has been slower than in prior quarter, so your origination in processing fees are lower, and from the standpoint, our service charges that were primarily coming through the number of come-through activity from deposit accounts primarily related overwrought, now we've seen a decline in that activity from the fourth quarter.

E. Robinson McGraw

They are part of that, obviously the fourth quarter decline and over that phase was economy-based, but there was less spending. And one of the other areas that we've seen a little drop-off in the fee income, on the mortgage loans, a lot of our mortgage loan activity in December was on the wholesale side, and so we will see some of those fees appear this quarter.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay, okay. And you did mention on the other expense side, the $700,000 impairment and one of the deeds in lieu?

E. Robinson McGraw

Right, that was that large deeds in lieu that we took a couple of quarters back in the DeSoto County.

Brian Klock - KBW

Right.

E. Robinson McGraw

And we had it appraised. And for the most part, how in fact all our houses, we were fine, but one of the developments, we felt over the price have felt and we already felt the same way had declined, so we went ahead with that impairment.

Brian Klock - KBW

And can you again give us kind of range of sort of what that appraised value was brought down to us as far as appraise value to the loan value sort of?

E. Robinson McGraw

Well, other than that one lot, the appraised value was about 90% or close to 80% to 90% of what loan value was. That one subdivision was I think about 65% of what the additional amount was.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

Stuart Johnson

And we the time, Brian, we had some real concern about that particular subdivision. It was the only one that had not, it only have one house in a two, by the way, but it was the only one that did not appeared to be moving like the rest them were.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay.

Stuart Johnson

So that was not unanticipated, but the rest of it was spread across the other developments that was $0.5 million spread across the other developments, so the rest of it was in pretty decent shape as far as what our loaned value were.

Brian Klock - KBW

Okay. And a last question, the tax rate, obviously there’s lot of things, moving parts in there, looks like you have some tax credit, so I guess Stuart, you can you give us an idea what sort of normalize run-rate would be I guess going forward for your tax rate?

Stuart Johnson

Okay. Brian, that’s going to be probably we have been running around the 30%, I don’t see that change in the whole lot in our indicated tax rate. The fourth quarter we had purchased a number of units as well coupled with tax credit, I think our units were up on an average about $4 million over the first quarter, so that coupled with an additional tax credit that we were able to take advantage of in the fourth quarter, but I think it will be somewhere in the range of the 30% still in (inaudible).

E. Robinson McGraw

Brian, that takes in the caveat that there are no changes either direction, but in terms of compression.

Brian Klock - KBW

Right, exactly. I guess we have to keep our eyes and ears open for that too. All right, thanks, thanks for taking the follow-up, guys. I appreciate it.

Stuart Johnson

Thanks, Brian.

Operator

There are no further questions in the queue. I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. McGraw.

Robinson McGraw

Thank you, Chanelle. We appreciate everybody's time today and your interest in Renasant Corporation, and we look forward to speaking with you again in the near future. Good bye, everybody.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the presentation. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect. Have a great day.

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