First quarter profit flat for Augusta banking company

The holding company for Georgia Bank & Trust this morning reported that its quarterly profit for the first three months of the year was even with the fourth quarter of 2008.

Also, the board for Augusta-based Southeastern Bank Financial Corp. suspended dividend payments to shareholders until the economy improves.

Southeastern Bank, which runs Georgia Bank & Trust in Augusta and Southern Bank & Trust in Aiken County, reported first quarter net income of $685,759, or $0.11 per share, compared to $660,139, or $0.11 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Compared to the first quarter of 2008, net income is down from $2.6 million.

R. Daniel Blanton, Southeastern Bank’s CEO, said suspending the dividend payments will preserve the company’s capital position by conserving $3.2 million of capital per year.

"We have resisted suspending our quarterly cash dividend in the past as we felt strongly that our loyal shareholders and supporters should be rewarded," Mr. Blanton said in a statement. "However, in light of the recession and the unlikely prospects for a near-term economic recovery, we have reached the point where conserving capital has become the most responsible use of our resources.”

Total assets as of March 31 were $1.5 billion, an increase of $214.3 million from a year ago.

Total deposits were $1.2 billion at the end of the quarter, an increase of 20.7 percent from the same period a year ago.

"In addition to growth from our core banking operations, mortgage income nearly doubled in the first quarter due to a significant increase in refinancing volume. Revenue from our Georgia Bank & Trust operations slowed during the quarter, though this was partially offset by the continued growth of our Southern Bank & Trust thrift,” Mr. Blanton reported.

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