An expected plunge in mortgage-related income reduced profits almost by half at the owner of CresCom Bank.

Charleston-based Carolina Financial Corp. said its net income for the second quarter was $2.2 million, or 57 cents a share, down 48 percent from the same period a year ago.

For the first half of 2014, Carolina Financial made $4.2 million, a decline of 24 percent.

The company attributed the bulk of the earnings drop-off to Crescent Mortgage Co. The Atlanta-based wholesale lending unit was a huge profit center for Carolina Financial a few years ago, as the housing market took off and property owners rushed to refinance at lower interest rates.

But that business has since cooled. Carolina Financial said mortgage applications are hovering near 20-year lows. The company is now focused on beefing up its retail bank.

"One of our primary goals for 2014 is to return the earnings of CresCom ...to the level of earnings exhibited by a superior community bank, without the help of Crescent Mortgage Co.," CEO Jerry Rexroad said in a statement. Rexroad said CresCom exceeded its "core earnings goal" for the January-June period with net income of $3.5 million, a 46 percent increase from a year ago.

In August, the bank plans to open branches at Cane Bay Plantation in Berkeley County and in Socastee in Horry County, bringing the total to 14 full-service retail offices.

CresCom also has its eyes on the Upstate.

It recently hired a veteran banker who will open a loan production office in the Greenville market this fall.

Carolina Financial, which listed its stock on the Nasdaq on July 1, also announced it has approved a cash dividend of 5 cents per share. It's payable Oct. 8 to stockholders of record as of Sept. 17.