Park Sterling posts lower 4th-quarter profit

The parent company of Charlotte-based Park Sterling Bank said Friday its fourth-quarter profit fell 14 percent from the same quarter a year ago – when its results benefited from a large gain tied to its public offering five years ago.

The largest regional bank headquartered in Charlotte posted profit of $3.5 million in the fourth quarter, down from $4.1 million a year earlier. Earnings per share were 8 cents in the fourth quarter, a decline of 1 cent per share from the same period a year ago.

Park Sterling attributed its profit being higher in the year-ago quarter to a $1.1 million non-taxable gain it recorded in that period. That gain came from a discount Park Sterling received on fees to underwrite its initial public offering in 2010.

The lender’s loans and deposits continue to grow as it acquires other lenders in its quest to become a larger regional bank.

Park Sterling said Friday its purchase last May of Rock Hill-based Provident Community Bancshares helped its fourth-quarter results by boosting Park Sterling’s loans and securities. The bank reported $1.6 billion in net loans in the quarter, up 22 percent from a year ago. Total deposits rose 15.7 percent to $1.9 billion.

That acquisition followed its 2012 purchase of Gastonia-based Citizens South Banking Corp.

Park Sterling is expanding elsewhere. Last year, it entered the Richmond, Va., market by opening a loan-production office that it has since converted into a full-service branch. Park Sterling said it plans to open a second branch in Richmond this year.

Its growth has increased its expenses. Non-interest expenses were $19.3 million in the fourth quarter, up 22.7 percent from a year ago because of merger costs and higher personnel costs as Park Sterling hires more bankers as it grows.

The company also reported results for all of 2014 on Friday. It recorded profit of $12.9 million last year, about $2 million less than its 2013 profit, as expenses rose.

Park Sterling operates in four states, including South Carolina and Georgia.