BancorpSouth Shares Dropped: What You Need to Know


Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Mississippi-based BancorpSouth (NYS: BXS) were getting hammered by investors today, falling as much as 11% in intraday trading after the company announced fourth-quarter results and a new stock offering.

So what: BancorpSouth's shares actually had the potential to have a good day today since earnings from the fourth quarter topped analysts' estimates. Thanks in large part to a drop in nonperforming loans, the bank showed $0.16 in earnings per share, up from $0.14 in the third quarter and above the $0.14 that Wall Street was looking for.

Investors, however, seemed to be laser-focused on the fact that the bank announced a new common-stock offering that could have it selling as much as $115 million in new shares. The offering has the potential to dilute the ownership stake of current shareholders.

Now what: The offering is a bit of a head-scratcher considering BancorpSouth emphasized in its earnings release that it "remains a well-capitalized financial institution." On the concerning side, bulking up on capital could mean that management is concerned about tough times ahead and wants a buffer. On the other hand though, if there are opportunities to invest the new capital in organic or acquisition-fueled growth, then the offering could end up being a positive move for current investors.

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