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The First's earnings rise

HATTIESBURG — The First Bancshares Inc., holding company for The First, A National Banking Association, reports net income available to common shareholders for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2009 amounted to $693,000 or $0.23 per diluted share, compared to $335,000 or $0.11 per diluted share for the same quarter in 2008.

Hoppy Cole, CEO of The First, said, “We are pleased to report an improvement in our third quarter earnings. Positive loan growth, improvement in our net interest margin, and a reduction in our operating expenses are the result of focused efforts by our employees to improve the bank’s performance in a challenging economic environment.”

Other quarterly highlights include:

• total assets increased to $485.889 million

• total loans increased to $321.402 million

• net interest margin increased to 3.59 percent from 3.54 percent at June 30, 2009

• total borrowed funds decreased 9.6% to $32.063 million

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