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First Financial Holdings, Inc. (FFCH)

F2Q10 (Qtr End 09/30/10) Earnings Call

April 27, 2010 02:00 PM ET

Executives

D.B. Wright - VP, Corporate Secretary

Tom Hood - President & CEO

Joe Amy - CCO

Wayne Hall - EVP,CFO

Blaise Bettendorf - CAO

Analysts

Catherine Mealor - KBW

Mac Hodgson - Suntrust Robinson Humphrey

Cary Morris - Scott & Stringfellow

Christopher Marinac - FIG Partners

Allen Bach - Davenport & Company

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the First Financial Holding, second quarter fiscal 2010 earnings conference call. During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. And afterwards, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions).

And I would now like to turn the conference over to D. B. Wright, Vice President and Corporate Secretary. Please go ahead.

D.B. Wright - Vice President and Corporate Secretary

Thank you, Jennifer. Good afternoon and thank you for participating in our second quarter 2010 earnings conference call. Before we begin, I have several brief administrative items to address. You should have received our second quarter fiscal 2009 earnings release and supplemental information early today. For those who did not, those are available on our website at firstfinancialholdings.com. In addition to this teleconference call, we have a listen-only live web cast. This webcast will be available for the next 90 days. Those are live in archive webcast may be accessed via a link and again, that’s on our website at firstfinancialholdings.com. Our President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hood will make opening remarks on our call today, Wayne Hall, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial officer, Joe Amy our Chief Credit Officer and Blaise Bettendorf, our Chief Accounting Officer will all be available for questions at the end and some will speak as well.

Before we begin, I need to remind you that during the course of this call, the company may make forward-looking statements about future events and future financial performance. Management’s plans, objective, 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. You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements which may speak only as of the date made. These statements are subject to numerous factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated or projected. For a list of some these factors, please note the company’s forward-looking statement disclosure in our fiscal 2010 second quarter earnings release. I'll now turn the call over to Tom

Tom Hood

Thanks very much D.B and thanks to all of you on the call this afternoon. We’re very, very appreciative for, of your time and your interest in First Financial. I encourage you also to thoroughly review the second quarter earnings release if you’ve not already done so. As D.B. mentioned it’s available on our website. We’ll be taking questions at the end of the call. We’ll do our very, very best at that time to be as transparent as we possibly call and the management is always available for questions and comments. Today, we’ll provide you with some key results, transmarket details and review operations for the quarter. We reported a net loss for the quarter of $19.1 million or $1.15 per share. This is compared to a loss of $4.5 million last quarter and net income of $3.1 million, for the same period last year. Our results this quarter continue to be significantly impacted by the current recession, high levels of unemployment, lower real estate, values, higher home inventories, lower retail sales and increased problem assets.

While our markets have clearly suffered as a result of the recession, according to the Charleston Chamber of Commerce’s Centre for Business Research and the College of Charleston, School of Business and Economics, the outlook for 2010 is stable with expansion beginning the end of the year and gaining strength in 2011. We are encouraged by the slight improvements in South Carolina unemployment rates over the last two periods. But we recognized that the states’ economy remains fairly fragile. Unemployment in the counties in which we operate have shown a slight improvement over the past few months as well as Boeing's construction of the $750 million aircraft assembly operation for the 787 aircraft is well underway. This investment will create as I think we have reported in the past as many as 3,800 new direct jobs in the market.

This decision by Boeing is expected to significantly improve Charleston's economy over the next decade and attract thousands of additional jobs from suppliers and other support companies. Unfortunately, the commercial real estate market is expected to continue to decline through 2010, a retail sales in our primary market are focused to grow in both 2010 and 2011. Part of this increase is expected from a boost in our tourism sector from a new carnival cruise business that was announced recently.

Approximately 69 ships with 2000 visitors per week will be calling on the Charleston port. The economic impact of the carnival ships will be about $37 million per year. In addition, the Port of Charleston recently announced a new Asia service for China and South Korea and also announced a 24% increase in container volume gain from the period of March last year. We believe these current expansion plans along with interest in our markets will help with our recovery as we continue to work through these economic challenges. The Charleston real estate market continues to be one of the top real estate markets in the country. The losses for the quarter have been driven by higher loan loss provisions related to the continued stress on our loan portfolio resulting from economic and unemployment considerations discussed above.

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