Mt. Pleasant-based Southcoast reports higher 4Q earnings

Southcoast Community Bank is based on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.

The owner of Mount Pleasant-based Southcoast Commmunity Bank closed out 2014 with a $1.35 million fourth-quarter profit, an threefold increase from the same period of 2013.

For the full year, net income totaled $3.73 million at Southcoast Financial Corp., or 53 cents a share. That compared to a $9 million profit in 2013, a figure that was skewed higher by a onetime $6.6 million tax benefit the company booked that year.

Southcoast CEO Wayne Pearson said in a written statement that several factors, including loan growth of nearly 10 percent and a 9 percent drop in overhead expenses last year, “all account for the earnings improvement in our core business.”

“We are proud of our accomplishments in 2014 as they reflect the hard work of our employees,” Pearson said.

Bad loans and other “nonperforming assets” fell by nearly half last year from the end of 2013, to 1.94 percent of all assets. Reserve funds the bank had to set aside to cover potential losses also declined.

Net interest income — the difference between what Southcoast paid out to depositors and what it took in from borrowers — increased by almost $900,000 last year to $14.6 million.

The bank owner said its lower 2014 overhead bill reflected decreases in salaries and benefits, lower federal insurance premiums, fewer expenses associated with repossessed real estate and a decline in data-processing costs.

Total assets as of Dec. 31 were $476.8 million, up 6.6 percent from 2013. Deposits increased almost 5 percent last year to $331 million.

Southcoast operates nine branches in the Charleston region. Its shares rose a penny to close at $6.90 on Wednesday.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.