Heritage Financial Group (NASDAQ: HBOS), the holding company for HeritageBank of the South, today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010. The Company's first quarter net income totaled $798,000 or $0.08 per diluted share, more than doubling net income of $395,000 or $0.04 per diluted share reported for the year-earlier quarter. Other highlights of the quarter included a strong increase in net interest income versus the year-earlier quarter, a 38% decrease in the loan loss provision – reflecting stabilizing quality in the Company's loan portfolio, and solid year-over-year advances in total assets, loans receivable, and deposits.

Separately, the Company also announced that it has received regulatory approval on its previously announced purchase of five bank branches from PAB Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: PABK), the Valdosta, Georgia-based holding company for The Park Avenue Bank. These branches, all in Georgia, are located in Statesboro (2), Baxley, Hazlehurst, and Adel. The transaction, which is expected to add approximately $52 million to the Bank's loan portfolio and approximately $98 million to its deposit base, now is expected to close on or about May 24, 2010.

Commenting on the results, Leonard Dorminey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Financial Group, said, "We are pleased to post a solid start to the new year, with significantly higher earnings for the first quarter and strengthening credit quality. These results also reflect the positive impact of the recent addition of three branches – one in Florida by acquisition and two in Georgia by means of a FDIC-assisted whole-bank purchase and assumption – that has contributed to the substantial loan and deposit growth we have experienced since the first quarter of 2009.

"We are excited about the growth opportunities we see for our company and bank," Dorminey added. "Our increased expansion activity over the past year has taken us to new markets, helped fill in our branch footprint between Albany and Ocala, and has allowed us to deploy our capital position. We look forward to continuing these efforts with the conclusion of our purchase of five branches from PAB Bankshares later this month, which will mark nearly a doubling of our branch network in just the past year. We also remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for an improving economy over the course of the year and the new, organic growth opportunities that may accompany such a recovery."