Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Park Sterling swings to profit

Charlotte-based Park Sterling Corp. posted its first quarterly profit in nearly two years for the first three months of 2012, the bank announced Tuesday.

The bank reported net income of $1.7 million, up from a $2.9 million loss in the same time period last year. Taking out merger-related expenses at the rapidly growing bank, Park Sterling earned $2.4 million in the first quarter this year.

It was the first profit since the second quarter of 2010, though earnings in the last few quarters have been weighed down by merger activity.

"Park Sterling's first quarter was marked by strong operating profitability and safeguarding of our balance sheet," CEO Jim Cherry said in a statement.

Park Sterling closed its acquisition of South Carolina-based Community Capital in November in a deal that effectively doubled the bank's assets. Cherry said the bank is continuing to look for acquisition targets, particularly in the Carolinas and Virginia.

The merger with Community Capital boosted Park Sterling's interest income for the quarter, and assets increased.

The bank's gross loan portfolio, however, shrunk 4 percent to $735.9 million as customers paid down debt and the bank chose not to match aggressive pricing from competitors, the bank said.