After a brutal end to 2009, the parent of Southcoast Community Bank swung to a first-quarter profit in 2010.

Mount Pleasant-based Southcoast Financial Corp. said it earned $363,000 for the three months that ended March 31, up about 20 percent from the same period a year ago.

On a per-share basis, the profit totaled 7 cents.

Southcoast released scant details about its first-quarter in a written statement Thursday. Clay Heslop, chief financial officer, referred all questions to Wayne Pearson, the bank's chief executive, who was not available for comment Friday.

The seven-branch bank, like many coastal lenders, has been working through credit problems stemming from the severe downdraft in the real estate and construction industries.

In its most recent quarter, Southcoast reported that it socked away about $1 million to cover potential losses from loans that go bad. It also said that its total assets, such as loans and investments, fell 3 percent to $504 million since Dec. 31.

The ratio of troubled, or nonperforming, assets at Southcoast climbed about one point since the close of last year to about 7 percent of all assets.

The 12-year-old bank continued to report strong capital levels that exceed regulatory requirements.

Southcoast's most recent results were in stark contrast to the previous quarter, when the company put almost $8 million toward loan-loss reserves, bringing the total to $14.5 million last year.

That triggered an $8.9 million loss for 2009.