Provident sees sharp drop in stock price


Provident Community Bancshares, which earlier this week announced it lost $685,000 during the quarter ended June 30, saw it stock price fall nearly 25 percent Wednesday.

The Rock Hill, SC-based parent of Provident Community Bank lost 97.5 cents a share in light trading to finish at $3.03. The company’s 52-week high is $13.67.

A year earlier, Provident posted a profit of $316,000 for the three months ended June 30. The company has lost $2.4 million through the first six months of 2009.

Loan loss provisions for the first half of the year were $3.6 million, up from $675,000 a year earlier, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Columbia: Famously shoddy


For a city intent on making itself a destination location (see the millions of dollars spent in the past decade on EdVenture, Innovista, ridiculous city slogans, etc.), Columbia, SC, could benefit from a few lessons in basic marketing.

Indeed, Mayor Bob Coble and Co. remind one of spend-happy teenagers whose only thrill comes from purchasing shiny new gadgets, not what happens afterward.

Consider this from Jeffrey Day, who details on his Carolina Culture blog the ineptitude of the city of Columbia’s online arts promotion efforts:

If you click on the S.C. Shakespeare Company you will be spirited to a site for Scholarship, Criticism and Performance of the works of William Shakespeare” and a review of “Romeo and Juliet” in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Wish I had gotten that assignment.) You’ll also learn that the Historic Columbia Foundation is a music and dance organization. Does the guy at the left look familiar? (Editor’s note: photo of Nicholas Smith) He shouldn’t. Nicholas Smith hasn’t been conductor of the S.C. Philharmonic for two years, but the city doesn’t know that. They must have missed all those banners lining Gervais Street bearing the image of Morihiko Nakahara, who just completed his first year as music director. The biggest classical-music making organization in the city – the USC Music School – isn’t even listed. Trustus Theatre, according to the city, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Math has never been my strong point, but the company was founded in 1985, which I believe makes it more than 10 years old.

This is a web site that was chosen late last year when the city mistakenly had two city web sites created at a cost of about $30,000. The city has known about the problems since February. The city public relations office said at that time they’d try to fix it. What is looks like now is the product of a city that doesn’t know and doesn’t care.

Should this really surprise anyone? After all, we’re talking about the city where a lack of oversight led to a years-long breakdown in accounting that left the city losing money on investments, paying bills multiple times, operating without written accounting guidelines and passing budgets without knowing how much money it had.

Did anyone really expect civil servants to be able to keep tabs on developments in the local arts community when no one seems to even know something as basic as how much money is in the city’s coffers?

Even more perplexing is the idea that the residents of Columbia would trust Coble and Co. to sink millions of their hard-earned dollars into such nebulous pie-in-the-sky schemes as hydrogen transportation research and Innovista.

It’s funny because it’s not my tax dollars


More government genius at work. In San Diego, local swimmers have gotten a court order forcing the city to chase the seals from the Scripps children’s pool in La Jolla, Calif. 

The Coyote Blog notes this bit of information in the story:

The city said it would blast recordings of barking dogs to scare away the pesky pinnipeds at the cost of $688,000 a year. San Diego cannot use force because the seals are a federally protected marine species.

Then Coyote adds: “Please, oh please can I get paid $688,000 a year to play loud recordings on the beach?  I have not even cracked a spreadsheet on this, but I am betting I can turn a profit on that.”

First National ‘reassigns’ top lender


Embattled First National Bancshares of Spartanburg, SC, said Tuesday that chief lending officer David H. Zabriskie had “accepted a transfer of duties” to that of commercial banking officer.

First National is struggling to keep its head above water. The parent of First National Bank of the South lost $44.8 million last year and another $1.36 million during the first three months of 2009.

It’s yet to release its earnings report for the most recent quarter.

As of March 31, 2009, First National reported nonperforming assets of $73.9 million, compared to $25.6 million year earlier.

According to information First National filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year, Zabriskie has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, including 15 years in commercial lending. He had also served as a bank examiner for the OCC and the OTS.

Zabriskie’s total compensation in 2008 was $199,577, according to information filed with the SEC. He earned $227,602 in 2007.

Zabriskie’s employment agreement was terminated in conjunction with his reassignment, the company announced.

Stock in First National closed Tuesday at 65 cents a share.

Losses spike for Tidelands


Tidelands Bancshares saw its losses spike sharply during the quarter ended June 30, jumping to $3.7 million from $231,000 during the same period in 2008.

The Mount Pleasant, SC-based parent of Tidelands Bank attributed the increase to credit provisions taken to fortify the balance sheet.

Provisions for loan losses rose to nearly $5.5 million during the three-month period, compared to $314,000 in 2008. Nonaccrual loans jumped to $11.6 million from $2.9 million.

Through the first six months of 2009, Tidelands lost nearly $4.6 million.

Shares of Tidelands are trading for $2.88.

First Reliance shows $1.2 million loss


First Reliance Bancshares reported a $1,154,614 loss for the quarter ended June 30, compared to a $683,421 gain the previous year.

Add in a $208,547 preferred stock dividend and the net loss available to shareholders for the quarter was $1.4 million for the Florence, SC-based parent of First Reliance Bank.

Officials attributed the loss to an increase in loan loss provisions. Provisions for loan losses for the three-month period were nearly $3.6 million, up from $645,794 in 2008.

First Reliance is currently trading for $2.75 a share, well off its 52-week high of $10.

Community Capital posts heavy loss


Community Capital Corp. of Greenwood, SC, reported it lost nearly $3 million during the quarter ended June 30.

The company posted a loss of $2,941,000, compared to net income of $427,000 during the same period in 2008.

Loan loss provisions rose to $5.8 million from $2.5 million a year earlier while nonperforming assets nearly doubled during the same period, to $34.4 million from $18.7 million, according to the information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

During the second quarter Community Capital said it incurred one-time expenses of $350,000 related equity-raising efforts, a $375,000 expense for the special FDIC assessment, and wrote down other real estate by $1.2 million.

The company also said it has eliminated fees paid to its bank and holding company boards of directors.

Community Capital closed Monday at $3.63 a share, just a penny off its 52-week low. The company has traded as high as $11.20 over the past year.