Reflecting broader industry trends, the owner of the largest and oldest bank based on the Charleston region swung to a profit in 2012 as conditions continued to stabilize for the lending business.

First FinancialHoldings Inc., the parent for First Federal Bank, said it earned $6.8 million, or 41 cents a share, in the last three year months of the year.

For the same period of 2011, the North Charleston-based company reported a $14.6 million profit, but that figure included a $12.7 million onetime gain from a large sale of troubled loans and other assets.

For the year, First Financial earned $24.9 million, or $1.51 a share, compared with a 2011 loss of $30.6million.

“The fourth quarter continued First Financial’s progress to producesolid operating trends in the core franchise and stable creditquality,” said Wayne Hall, president and CEO of the parent company and its banking subsidiary.

Hall said the bank made “consistent progress” last year in boosting fee-based revenue and improving profit margins.

“We arepleased with the earnings momentum we are building and the potential toimprove performance and enhance shareholder value,” he said in statement.

Also, First Financial said it will pay a regular quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents a share Feb. 22 to stockholders of record as of Feb. 8.