Reflecting broader industry trends, the owner of the largest and oldest bank based in the Charleston region swung to a profit for 2012 as conditions continued to stabilize for the lending business.
First Financial Holdings Inc., parent of First Federal Bank, said it earned $6.8 million, or 41 cents a share, in the last three 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 full year, First Financial earned $24.9 million, or $1.51 a share, compared with a 2011 loss of $30.6 million.
“The fourth quarter continued First Financial’s progress to produce solid operating trends in the core franchise and stable credit quality,” 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 are pleased with the earnings momentum we are building and the potential to improve performance and enhance shareholder value,” he said in statement.
Also, First Financial said it will pay a quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents a share Feb. 22 to stockholders of record as of Feb. 8.
Other locally based banks also have recently reported improved earnings for 2012, including Southcoast Community Bank and the Bank of South Carolina. Founded in 1934, First Federal is the largest among them, with $3.2 billion in assets and about 70 branches.
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