Aquesta Financial Holdings (AQFH) in Cornelius, N.C., reported higher earnings that benefited from loan growth.

The $236 million-asset company reported that its first-quarter net income increased 23% from a year earlier, to $428,000.

"As I have consistently communicated over the past two years, 2012 marked the change of focus from defensive to offensive strategy for Aquesta," while maintaining good asset quality, Jim Engel, the company's president and chief executive, said in a press release.

Total loans increased 21%, to $137.2 million.

Noninterest income nearly doubled from a year earlier, to $808,000. Net Interest Income rose 24%, to $2.1million.

Aquesta formed a bank holding company in March that controls Aquesta Insurance Services and Aquesta Bank.

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