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Park Sterling income narrows from a year ago

Park Sterling Corp. said Thursday its second-quarter profit available to shareholders declined from a year ago as the bank’s ongoing growth pushed its expenses higher.

The largest regional lender based in Charlotte said it earned $3.4 million, a drop from the $3.5 million it made during the same period last year.

Profits were weighed down by higher expenses, driven by the bank’s acquisition of Provident Community Bancshares of Rock Hill. Expenses also rose from the addition of new bankers across the company as it seeks to offer more products and services to customers in its expanding footprint.

As Park Sterling grows – it now operates in four states as of this year – its executives are adding a larger array of products common to bigger banks while also seeking to continue providing the personalized customer service for which community banks are known.

“We’re obviously trying to work with a broader customer set than a typical $2 billion (asset) bank,” David Gaines, Park Sterling’s chief financial officer, said Thursday on a conference call to discuss the second-quarter results.

“People care more about solutions than service,” he said. “That’s just the reality. So, we’ve got to be very focused on ensuring we’ve got solutions for our customers.”

The newest area the bank has ventured into is capital markets. Gaines said Thursday that Park Sterling hired two people late last month to allow the bank to offer some capital markets services.

Executives also said Thursday that Park Sterling has been adding bankers across its business lines. CEO Jim Cherry said the bank continues to hire “well-known” bankers, including those with commercial, mortgage and private banking expertise, although that hiring will trail off later this year.

Park Sterling’s total loans grew 13 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, excluding $100 million in loans it acquired from Provident Community Bancshares.

Personnel costs increased by $856,000 in the second quarter from a year ago. The higher costs come as the bank expands into Virginia, where it opened a commercial banking office earlier this year. This week, the office was converted into a full-service branch.

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On Wednesday, Park Sterling declared a quarterly dividend of 2 cents for common stockholders.

Park Sterling shares rose 30 cents Thursday, or 4.5 percent, closing at $6.99.

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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