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First Financial Holdings Inc. (FFCH)

F4Q 2008 Earnings Call

October 24, 2008 2:00 pm ET

Executives

Dorothy B. Wright – Vice President Investor Relations and Corporate Secretary

Thomas A. Hood – President and Chief Executive Officer

R. Wayne Hall – Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Mark Adelson – Senior Vice President and Treasurer

Analysts

Cary Morris – BB&T Capital Markets

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen thank you for standing by. Welcome to the First Financial Holding’s year end earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn the conference over to D. B. Wright, Vice President and Corporate Secretary. Please go ahead ma’am.

Dorothy B. Wright

Thank you Tina. Good afternoon and thank you for participating in our fourth quarter 2008 earnings conference call. Before we begin, I have several brief administrative items to address.

You should have received our fourth quarter fiscal 2008 earnings release along with supplemental information earlier today. For those who did not both are available on our website and that address is firstfinancialholdings.com. In addition to this teleconference call we have a listen only live webcast available. This webcast will be available for the next 90 days. Both the live and archived webcast may be accessed via a link on our home page and again that address is firstfinancialholdings.com.

Our President and Chief Executive Officer A. Thomas Hood will make opening remarks on our call today. Wayne Hall, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer will follow and both along with Mark Adelson, Senior Vice President and Treasurer will take questions at the end.

Our presentation today discusses the company’s business outlook and will include forward-looking statements. Those statements include descriptions of management’s plans, objectives or goals for future operations, products or services; forecast of financial and other performance measures; and statements about the company’s general outlook for economic and business conditions. We also may make forward-looking statements during the Question-and-Answer period following management’s presentation.

These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from those discussed today. Information on the risk factors that could cause actual results to differ is available from the earnings release that was distributed today and from the Form 10-K for the year ended September 30, 2007. Forward-looking statements are effective only as of the date they are made and the company assumes no obligation to update this information. I will now turn the call over to Tom.

A. Thomas Hood

Thanks D.B. Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for joining us today. We want to thank you obviously for your continued interest in First Financial. We hope you’ve had a chance to read the fourth quarter earnings release and the information for fiscal 2008 that we issued this morning. If not, D.B.’s given you a website where you can gain access to that and we certainly encourage you to do so.

I’ll provide you with some key details as we discuss operations for the quarter as well as the year ended September 30, 2008. After commenting on highlights from the quarter and the year I’ll comment on some continuing strategic initiatives and report on some other results.

As a snapshot for our fourth quarter, net income was $6.3 million compared to our linked quarter of $5.9 million and compared to the 9/30/07 quarter $5.2 million. Earnings per share diluted were $0.54 for the 9/30/08 quarter, $0.44 from the comparative quarter in ’07 and $0.51 to our linked quarter 6/30/08.

Our return on equity was 13.59% for the current quarter. That compares to 11.09% to 9/30/07 quarter and 12.6% compared to this 6/30/08 quarter, our linked quarter. Earnings increased 6.9% over the linked quarter. Earnings were up 21.5% from the comparative quarter in fiscal ’07.

Earnings compared to our June ’08 quarter, the linked quarter were favorably impacted by higher net interest income and an interest margin of 3.48%. Strong loan growth for the quarter, loans increased some $67.8 million. We had lower operating expenses for the quarter, higher service charges on deposit accounts.

The September quarter compared to our linked June quarter were negatively impacted by a higher loan loss provision in response to a higher level of charge-offs and a higher level of problem loans. We increased our loan loss reserve to $24 million or 102 basis points of total loans.

We also had lower mortgage banking income in September for the September quarter compared to the June quarter. And insurance revenues were a bit lower for the September quarter.

When we compare our September ’08 quarter with the September ’07 quarter, and look at quarterly earnings, we were positively impacted by a higher net interest income, higher service charges on deposit accounts, and higher insurance revenues. Earnings for the September ’08 quarter when compared again to the ’07 quarter were negatively impacted by a higher loan loss provision, higher operating expense, primarily related to the Somers-Pardue Agency acquisition.

And I want to add that we couldn’t be more pleased with the contributions of Somers-Pardue that they’re making to our insurance business. They’re some of the very best professionals in our business. We’re really grateful to have them as part of our insurance group.

Reporting for the fiscal year 2008, the 12 months ended, net income for the year was

$22.6 million. That’s compared to $25.1 million fiscal year ’07. Earnings per share diluted for ’08 was $1.94 compared to $2.07. Net income was down $2.4 million or 9.7% and diluted earnings per share were down $0.13 or 6.3%.

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