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Southern First reports results for first quarter 2024

CRBR Biz Wire //April 19, 2024//

Southern First reports results for first quarter 2024

CRBR Biz Wire //April 19, 2024//

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Greenville, South Carolina – Southern First Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: SFST), holding company for Southern First Bank, today announced its financial results for the three-month period ended March 31, 2024.

“Our team generated excellent performance during the first quarter in terms of growing profitable client relationships and continuing to manage our credit quality exceptionally well,” stated Art Seaver, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our disciplined approach to pricing both loans and deposits resulted in improvement in our net interest margin, and this focus will continue as we build on our success for the long-term benefit of our communities and stakeholders.”

2024 First Quarter Highlights
Net income was $2.5 million and diluted earnings per common share were $0.31 for Q1 2024
Total loans increased to $3.6 billion at Q1 2024, compared to $3.4 billion at Q1 2023
Total deposits increased to $3.5 billion at Q1 2024, compared to $3.4 billion at Q1 2023
Strong credit quality with nonperforming assets to total assets of 0.09% and past due loans to total loans of 0.36% at Q1 2024
Net interest margin was 1.94% for Q1 2024, compared to 2.36% for Q1 2023
Book value per common share increased to $38.65 at Q1 2024, or 4%, over Q1 2023
Net income for the first quarter of 2024 was $2.5 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, a $1.6 million decrease from the fourth quarter of 2023 and a $181 thousand decrease from the first quarter of 2023. Net interest income decreased $415 thousand during the first quarter of 2024, compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, and decreased $1.8 million, compared to the first quarter of 2023. The decrease in net interest income from the prior quarter was driven by less interest income on our federal funds sold and interest-bearing deposits, while the decrease from the prior year was driven by an increase in deposit and funding costs.

There was a reversal of the provision for credit losses of $175 thousand for the first quarter of 2024, compared to a reversal of $975 thousand during the fourth quarter of 2023 and a provision of $1.8 million during the first quarter of 2023. The provision reversal of $175 thousand during the first quarter of 2024 relates to a reversal in the reserve for unfunded commitments, driven by a decrease in the balance of unfunded commitments at March 31, 2024. As we continue to experience low net charge-offs, our expected loss rates continue to decline, resulting in a reduction in the allowance for credit losses as a percentage of total loans.

Noninterest income was $2.7 million for the first quarter of 2024, compared to $2.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2023, and $2.0 million for the first quarter of 2023. Mortgage banking income continues to be the largest component of our noninterest income at $1.2 million for the first quarter of 2024, $868 thousand for the fourth quarter of 2023, and $622 thousand for the first quarter of 2023.

Noninterest expense for the first quarter of 2024 was $18.1 million, a $1.1 million increase from the fourth quarter of 2023, and a $996 thousand increase from the first quarter of 2023. The increase in noninterest expense from the previous quarter was driven by an increase in compensation and benefits expense, while the increase from the prior year related not only to an increase in compensation and benefits expenses, but also to increases in outside service and data processing costs and insurance expenses. The increase in compensation and benefits expenses during the current quarter was due primarily to an increase in various benefit-related expenses. In addition, the increase in outside service and data processing costs from the prior quarter and prior year was driven by an increase in software licensing and maintenance costs, while insurance costs increased over the prior year due to higher FDIC insurance premiums.

Our effective tax rate was 25.5% for the first quarter of 2024, 21.9% for the fourth quarter of 2023, and 23.6% for the first quarter of 2023. The higher tax rate in the first quarter of 2024 as compared to the prior quarter and prior year was primarily related to the effect of equity compensation transactions during the quarter.

Net interest income was $18.6 million for the first quarter of 2024, a $415 thousand decrease from the fourth quarter of 2023, driven by a $772 thousand decrease in interest income, on a tax-equivalent basis, partially offset by a $357 thousand decrease in interest expense. The decrease in interest income was driven by a $107.5 million decrease in average federal funds sold and interest-bearing deposit balances. In comparison to the first quarter of 2023, net interest income decreased $1.8 million, resulting primarily from a $432.7 million increase in average interest-bearing liabilities during the 12 months ended March 31, 2024, combined with a 115-basis point increase in the average cost. Our net interest margin, on a tax-equivalent basis, was 1.94% for the first quarter of 2024, a two-basis point increase from 1.92% for the fourth quarter of 2023 and a 42-basis point decrease from 2.36% for the first quarter of 2023. During the first quarter of 2024, the yield on our loan portfolio increased by 10-basis points, while the cost of our interest-bearing deposits increased by only seven basis points, as compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, resulting in a slight increase in net interest margin for the period. The lower net interest margin during the first quarter of 2024, as compared to the first quarter of 2023, was a result of our deposit and borrowing costs increasing faster than our loan yield as our interest-bearing liabilities have been more sensitive to changes in the federal funds rate over the past two years.

Total nonperforming assets decreased by $317 thousand during the first quarter of 2024, and represented 0.09% of total assets, a decrease compared to 0.10% for the fourth quarter of 2023 and 0.12% for the first quarter of 2023. While we added three new relationships to nonaccrual during the first quarter of 2024, there were also three relationships either returned to accrual status or paid off during the quarter. In addition, our classified asset ratio decreased to 3.99% for the first quarter of 2024 from 4.25% in the fourth quarter of 2023 and from 5.10% in the first quarter of 2023.

At March 31, 2024, the allowance for credit losses was $40.4 million, or 1.11% of total loans, compared to $40.7 million, or 1.13% of total loans at December 31, 2023, and $40.4 million, or 1.18% of total loans, at March 31, 2023. We had net charge-offs of $241 thousand, or 0.03% annualized, for the first quarter of 2024, compared to net recoveries of $191 thousand for the fourth quarter of 2023 and net charge-offs of $59 thousand for the first quarter of 2023. There was no provision for credit losses recorded during the first quarter of 2024, compared to a reversal of $640 thousand for the fourth quarter of 2023 and a provision of $1.9 million for the first quarter of 2023. As we continue to experience low net charge-offs, the expected loss rates in our allowance for credit loss continue to decline, resulting in no provision for credit loss expense for the quarter.

ABOUT SOUTHERN FIRST BANCSHARES
Southern First Bancshares, Inc., Greenville, South Carolina is a registered bank holding company incorporated under the laws of South Carolina. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Southern First Bank, is the second largest bank headquartered in South Carolina. Southern First Bank has been providing financial services since 1999 and now operates in 12 locations in the Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston markets of South Carolina as well as the Charlotte, Triangle and Triad regions of North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. Southern First Bancshares has consolidated assets of approximately $4.1 billion and its common stock is traded on The NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “SFST.” More information can be found at www.southernfirst.com.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements in this news release contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, such as statements relating to future plans and expectations, and are thus prospective. Such forward-looking statements are identified by words such as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “preliminary”, “intend,” “plan,” “target,” “continue,” “lasting,” and “project,” as well as similar expressions. Such statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements are reasonable, any of the assumptions could prove to be inaccurate. Therefore, we can give no assurance that the results contemplated in the forward-looking statements will be realized. The inclusion of this forward-looking information should not be construed as a representation by our company or any person that the future events, plans, or expectations contemplated by our company will be achieved.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in the forward-looking statements: (1) competitive pressures among depository and other financial institutions may increase significantly and have an effect on pricing, spending, third-party relationships and revenues; (2) the strength of the United States economy in general and the strength of the local economies in which the company conducts operations may be different than expected; (3) the rate of delinquencies and amounts of charge-offs, the level of allowance for credit loss, the rates of loan and deposit growth as well as pricing of each product, or adverse changes in asset quality in our loan portfolio, which may result in increased credit risk-related losses and expenses; (4) changes in legislation, regulation, policies, or administrative practices, whether by judicial, governmental, or legislative action, including, but not limited to, changes affecting oversight of the financial services industry or consumer protection; (5) the impact of changes to Congress on the regulatory landscape and capital markets; (6) adverse conditions in the stock market, the public debt market and other capital markets (including changes in interest rate conditions) could continue to have a negative impact on the company; (7) changes in interest rates, which may continue to affect the company’s net income, interest expense, prepayment penalty income, mortgage banking income, and other future cash flows, or the market value of the company’s assets, including its investment securities; (8) elevated inflation which may cause adverse risk to the overall economy, and could indirectly pose challenges to our clients and to our business; (9) any increase in FDIC assessments which have increased and may continue to increase our cost of doing business; and (10) changes in accounting principles, policies, practices, or guidelines. Additional factors that could cause our results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in our reports (such as Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K) filed with the SEC and available at the SEC’s Internet site (http://www.sec.gov). All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements concerning the company or any person acting on its behalf is expressly qualified in its entirety by the cautionary statements above. We do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made, except as required by law.

 

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