CresCom Bank’s owner reports earnings, announces dividend

CresCom Bank’s main office is at Meeting and George streets in downtown Charleston.

Earnings at largest bank owner based in the Charleston region fell sharply in the fourth quarter and for all of 2014, reflecting weakening demand for mortgages.

Carolina Financial Corp., said it made $1.7 million for last three months of the year, down 57 percent from the same period of 2013.

For all of 2014, the Charleston-based parent of CresCom Bank reported a profit of $8.3 million, or about half of what it made the previous year.

The declines were attributed largely to Crescent Mortgage Co., an Atlanta-based subsidiary that does business across the country. Net income at the wholesale home-lending business dropped to $1.9 million last year, from $12.4 million in 2013.

“Nationally, 2014 mortgage originations are reduced approximately 50 percent from 2013 levels resulting in significantly reduced origination revenues and operating margins,” Carolina Financial said in a statement.

As a result of that decline, the company announced last year that it would focus on boosting the bottom line at CresCom. The parent company said the retail bank’s year-end profit of $7.3 million “exceeded” its goal for 2014.

“The company experienced strong organic loan growth as well as core deposit growth by successfully executing our strategic plans,” Carolina Financial CEO Jerry Rexroad said in a statement.

The earnings report capped off a busy year for the holding company, which listed its stock on the Nasdaq in May and more than doubled its CresCom footprint in December by acquiring 13 branches from a Virginia lender, mostly around the Grand Strand and in eastern North Carolina.

The company marked another milestone last year as its assets blew past the $1 billion mark, making it the third largest bank owner based in South Carolina. It also expanded CresCom into St. George and Cane Bay Plantation while opening limited-service loan offices in Greenville and Wilmington.

“Overall, we are pleased to report these strong financial and operational results for 2014 and believe ... we are well positioned for fiscal 2015,” Rexroad said.

Carolina Financial also approved a quarterly cash dividend of 3 cents a share. It will be paid April 8 to shareholders of record as of March 18.