The owner of Mount Pleasant-based Tidelands Bank reported its sixth consecutive quarterly deficit as it had to set aside $4.2 million to cover bad loans.

Tidelands Bancshares Inc. said it lost nearly $4.5 million from Jan. 1 to March 31, compared to a nearly $2 million loss for the same period in 2010. On a per-share basis, the latest deficit totaled $1.09.

"Those number don't come as a surprise to us," said Thomas H. Lyles, acting chief executive officer at Tidelands.

Lyles noted that a turnaround plan the bank filed with industry regulators called for "several more quarters of pain, if you will," before the economy and the company "turn the corner."

He added that Tidelands is making steady and better-than-expected improvements in winnowing its portfolio of soured loans and other so-called non-performing assets. "The positive thing out of this is that the credit indicators are all looking better," Lyles said.

The seven-branch lender has struggled to rebound from the sharp real estate downturn that has socked many financial institutions in South Carolina, especially along the coast. Tidelands has offices from the Hilton Head Island area to Myrtle Beach, though most of its business is concentrated in the Charleston region.

The bank's parent company lost $16.5 million in 2010. Its cumulative losses since 2008 total more than $37 million.

As a result, Tidelands has been directed to raise capital, curb certain business activities and take other corrective actions under two supervisory agreements it has entered into with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond since last year. It also had to submit a confidential turnaround strategy to its regulators.

"All in all, the quarter is pretty representative of what we thought it would be when we put this plan together months ago. ... We're patiently executing on the plan, and doing it in an impatient world," Lyles said.

Lyles was named interim CEO in early April after Robert E. "Chip" Coffee Jr. abruptly stepped down.

Shares of Tidelands have been trading well under $1 in recent months, prompting a waning that the stock could lose its listing on the Nasdaq Global Market because the total value is below $5 million. They fell 3 cents Monday to close at 36 cents.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.