Third-quarter earnings take dive from last year

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The holding company for Georgia Bank & Trust reported net income of $1.9 million for the third quarter Friday .

Southeastern Bank Financial Corp., which also operates Southern Bank & Trust of Aiken, also reported increases in assets, deposits and loan activity for July, August and September.

Third - quarter earnings were not as high as a year ago, when it reported a net income of

$3.4 million, or 56 cents per diluted share.

The holding company reported that its quarterly expenses were 12 percent higher than a year ago because of costs associated with operating two additional Southern Bank & Trust branches, one additional Georgia Bank & Trust branch and its new Columbia County operations center.

The lower income is also attributable to taking a $2 million allowance for possible loan losses.

"We continued to generate profits and grow our assets in the third quarter, despite the historic financial turmoil in the banking markets and overall economy," said R. Daniel Blanton, the president and chief executive officer. "Though there continues to be much speculation about the health of many banks in our region, our long-held conservative approach and solid, consistent performance gives us confidence that we can continue to meet the difficult challenges that lie ahead for all banks."

Total assets were $1.4 billion, an increase of $164.3 million since the beginning of the year. Total

deposits of $1.1 billion are also

up 18 percent from the start of 2008.

The company reported that its nonperforming assets were

2.7 percent of total assets, compared with 0.22 percent at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

Loans outstanding at the end of the third quarter were $1 billion, an increase of 13.3 percent since January. Included is the purchase of a $29 million loan portfolio to add growth to the company's operations in Athens , Ga .

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

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