With asset quality deteriorating, First Financial Holdings Inc. says it is expecting to book a loss for its most recent quarter.

The $3.5 billion-asset company in Charleston, S.C., said in a press release late Friday that it expects to record a loan-loss provision of $25 million to $26 million for its quarter that ended Dec. 31. This would be up to a 28% increase from a year earlier. First Financial Holdings did not specify how much it expects to lose in its first fiscal quarter. It lost $6.5 million a year earlier.

Most of the provision will go toward covering chargeoffs, which the company said it expects to be $20 million to $21 million. It would also increase the allowance to loan-loss reserves to $73 million, up roughly 7% from Sept. 30.

At Sept. 30, the end of its fiscal year, First Financial Holdings' nonperforming assets totaled $102 million, up fourfold from a year earlier, to 2.92% of total assets. The company said that despite the loss, its First Federal Savings and Loan Association unit would remain well capitalized. The company is set to report its official results on Jan. 27.

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