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10 Small Bank Stocks for Growth


5. First Financial Holdings

Shares of First Financial Holdings (FFCH) of Charleston, S.C., closed at $11.47 Friday, down 19% from a year earlier. Based on a quarterly payout of 5 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 1.74%.

Based on a consensus price target of $14.22, the shares have 24% upside potential.

The company had $3.3 billion in total assets as of December 31, with 66 offices along the coast of South Carolina, and also in the Florence, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C. areas.

The company owes $65 million in TARP money.

For the first fiscal quarter ended December 31, First Financial Holdings reported net income to common shareholders of $210 thousand, or a penny a share. For fiscal 2010 ended September 30, the company reported a net loss to common shareholders of $40.6 million, or $2.46 a share. The loss mainly resulted from a $125.2 million provision for loan losses, increasing from $66.9 million the previous fiscal year.

The consensus estimates are for First Financial Holdings to earn 6 cents a share in fiscal 2011 and 94 cents a share in fiscal 2012.

On March 9, Christopher Marinac of FIG Partners upgraded First Financial Holdings to an "outperform" or buy rating with a price target of $15.11, saying a recent visit with the bank's management had reaffirmed his "conviction that classified loans are beginning to stabilize and that necessary credit marks are quite measurable for the next several quarters." Marinac forecasted annual earnings power of "$1.95 by the end of fiscal 2011."

Two of the seven analysts covering First Financial Holdings rate the shares a buy, while the other five analysts all have neutral ratings.

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