Coastal Banking Co. of Beaufort, S.C., reported late Friday that its net loss shrank to $2.3 million in the fourth quarter from $11.9 million a year earlier.

The most recent quarter included a $1.8 million deferred tax asset valuation allowance.

Michael Sanchez, the company's chief executive, said in a press release that while "disappointed" with the losses, he was also "heartened" that core earnings growth hit levels that were last reached in 2006. Sanchez pointed to a 192% increase in mortgage banking income from a year earlier, to $3.5 million.

Coastal Banking also reported an increase in its Small Business Administration loan income, which totaled $580,408 in the fourth quarter.

Coastal Banking is also continuing its asset shrinkage plan by closing a branch in Bluffton, S.C., this year, shedding about $25 million of assets, Sanchez said.

In 2010, Coastal Banking reduced assets by 7.8%, to $427 million at Dec. 31.

The company's bank, CBC National Bank, was well capitalized with a total risk-based capital ratio of 14.5% at Dec 31.

Still, Coastal Banking's nonperforming loans to total loans were 8.33% at Dec. 31, or almost double from 4.75% a year earlier.

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