A spike in credit costs in the fourth quarter led United Security Bancshares in Fresno, Calif., to post a $2.9 million loss for 2010. Annual losses at the $675 million-asset United fell 36.3% from 2009, when the company posted a $4.5 million loss. After three consecutive profitable quarters, it swung to a $4.3 million loss in the fourth quarter, compared with a $425,000 loss in the same period a year earlier.

The fourth-quarter losses were driven by a $6.5 million provision for loan losses, a 35% increase from a year earlier. The company charged off $6.5 million in the fourth quarter — more than what it charged off in the first nine months of 2010.

Impaired loans increased 11.1% from the previous quarter, and nonaccrual loans increased 12.8%, after a $10.5 million loan relationship moved to nonaccrual status in December.

At Dec. 31, nonperforming assets totaled $70.5 million, or 10.37% of total assets. United Security warned it may experience additional losses related to problem assets, and future increases in problem assets due to a continued weak economy.

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