Originally created 04/21/00

Area banks record increases



Two local community banks this week reported increases in first-quarter earnings.

Augusta-based Georgia Bank & Trust Co., which operates seven branches in Richmond and Columbia counties, announced this week a 15.1 percent increase in first-quarter earnings.

The bank's holding company, Georgia Bank Financial Corp., reported net income of $910,000, or 43 cents per share, up from $791,000, or 38 cents per share, from the same period in 1999.

As of March 31, the bank had total assets of $375.6 million, deposits of $305 million and loans of $247 million, respective increases of 16.5 percent, 13.5 percent and 9.5 percent from the same period the previous year.

The company's board of directors also announced a stock repurchase program in which the company will purchase up to 100,000 shares of outstanding common stock through privately negotiated transactions or at open market prices.

The company's stock, which traded as high as $31 a share on the OTC Bulletin Board last summer, has fallen to about $20.

"We just feel like it's a bargain right now," bank President Dan Blanton said.

Aiken-based People's Community Bank, which operates three branches in Aiken and North Augusta, announced a 75 percent increase in first-quarter earnings.

The bank's holding company, People's Community Capital Corp., reported earnings of $104,472, or 11 cents per share, up from $59,557, or 6 cents per share, from the same period in 1999.

As of March 31, the bank had total assets of $55.2 million, deposits of $44.7 million and loans of $38.1 million, respective increases of 38 percent, 37 percent and 44 percent from the previous year.

The company announced reaching cumulative profitability during the quarter, meaning that all operating losses associated with its September 1997 start-up have been recovered.

"The cumulative profitability is ahead of schedule," People's President Alan George said. "We're very pleased with the earnings performance of the bank."

On April 1, the bank began offering Internet banking services through its Web site at www.pcbonline.net.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.