Business news

Southeastern Bank sees rise in earnings


Southeastern Bank Financial Corp., the holding company for Georgia Bank & Trust and Southern Bank & Trust, reported first-quarter earnings Friday of $2.3 million, or 34 cents a share.

These numbers are up from earnings a year ago of $1.3 million, or 19 cents a share.

The company experienced significant decreases in deposit costs, increasing net interest income and net interest margin during the quarter, according to President and CEO R. Daniel Blanton. It is the fifth consecutive quarter of income and earnings growth for the company.

Total assets are $1.6 billion, total deposits are $1.4 billion and total loans are $881.7 million.

Olin Corp. reports increase in income

Olin Corp. said its first-quarter net income increased to $133.7 million, or $1.66 a share, up from $14.1 million, or 18 cents a share, in last year's quarter.

The increase is attributed to the February acquisition of half the interest into SunBelt Partnership, which it now owns.

The ammunition and chemical maker said its revenue rose more than 20 percent to $436 million from $362 million.

Olin has a chlorine production plant in east Augusta.

Caterpillar Inc. profit soars in first quarter

ST. LOUIS --- Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. said Friday its first-quarter profit soared more than fivefold, and the company raised its financial outlook for the year as a growing economic recovery boosted demand for its mining and construction equipment.

The results blew past analysts' expectations. Caterpillar's earnings are a bellwether for the global economy, as it sells the kind of kind of expensive, heavy machinery used for construction, mining and logging.

Caterpillar shares rose $2.77, or 2.8 percent, to $115.41, after hitting a record high $116.25 in earlier trading Friday.

Chevron Corp. earns higher prices for oil

SAN RAMON, CALIF. --- Chevron Corp. said Friday its first-quarter net income rose 36 percent, the latest strong earnings report from a major oil company.

Chevron earned higher prices for its oil around the globe. In the U.S., Chevron sold its oil for an average price of $89 per barrel in the last quarter, compared with $71 a year ago.

These higher prices led to a $1.25 billion increase in profit from exploring for and producing oil and gas. Refining profits more than doubled, to $622 million.

Federal regulators shut down five banks

WASHINGTON --- Regulators on Friday shut down banks in Florida, Georgia and Michigan, a total of five closures that lifted the number of U.S. bank failures this year to 39.

The pace of closures has slowed, however, as the economy improves and banks work their way through piles of bad debt. By this time last year, regulators had closed 64 banks.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized First National Bank of Central Florida, based in Winter Park, Fla., with $352 million in assets, and Cortez Community Bank of Brooksville, Fla., with $70.9 million in assets.

The agency also took over First Choice Community Bank of Dallas, Ga., with $308.5 million in assets; Park Avenue Bank, based in Valdosta, Ga., with $953.3 million in assets; and Community Central Bank in Mount Clemens, Mich., with $476.3 million in assets.