The owner of Tidelands Bank posted a small profit for the first quarter of the year.

Mount Pleasant-based Tidelands Bancshares Inc. said it earned about $24,000, or 1 cent a share. That compared to loss of nearly $4.5 million, or $1.09 a share, for the first quarter of 2011.

The company said one reason it returned to profitability was that it had to set aside less money to cover bad loans in the January-March period.

Also, Tidelands said it reduced operating expenses.

The seven-branch bank owner has been hurt by the downturn in the real estate and construction industries.

Total assets for the company were $547.6 million at March 31, an increase of $13.5 million from Dec. 31. Loans declined about $4.5 million while deposits climbed by $13.6 million.