Other financial highlights of the fourth quarter included significant growth in total loans and deposits as the Company continued to capitalize on its entry into new markets with the acquisition of eight branch locations since December 2009 in South Georgia and North Central Florida as well as with the Company's de novo entry into the Valdosta, Georgia, market. This expansion has provided the Company with opportunities for follow-on organic growth in these new markets, particularly Statesboro and Valdosta, enabling the Company to increase its loan portfolio to $419.0 million at December 31, 2010, up 25% from $334.1 million at December 31, 2009. Likewise, the Company has enjoyed significant deposit growth during the past year, with deposits increasing 25% to $534.2 million at December 31, 2010, from $426.6 million at December 31, 2009. Also, in the fourth quarter of 2010, the Company completed its conversion to a fully public stock holding company with a successful second-step offering, which increased total stockholders' equity to $119.3 million at December 31, 2010, versus $60.8 million at the end of 2009.
Commenting on the results, Leonard Dorminey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Financial Group, said, "The past year has been a remarkable period of growth for our company, one marked by accelerated and successful expansion into many attractive and strategically important growth markets. In little more than a year, we have significantly expanded our footprint, more than doubled our banking locations, and have firmly positioned HeritageBank of the South to serve a growing customer base. More importantly, because of our solid reputation, we have been able to attract talented and experienced bankers with strong local ties to these new markets to lead our expansion efforts. At the same time, we have continued to expand the services we offer, most notably with the recent opening of new mortgage production offices in Valdosta and McDonough, Georgia, and a retail brokerage operation in Statesboro, Georgia, further enhancing our capabilities as a full-service financial services provider.