The First declares special dividend

HATTIESBURG — The First Bancshares Inc., holding company for The First, A National Banking Association, has announced a special dividend of $0.05 per common share as well as a quarterly dividend of $0.025 per common share.

The record date of both dividends will be Feb. 11, 2010, with a payable date of February 26, 2010.

The First also reports net income available to common shareholders for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2009, was $525,000, or $.17 per diluted share, compared to $385,000, or $.13 per diluted share, for the same quarter in 2008, an increase of $140,000, or 36.4 percent.

Net income available to common shareholders for the year ended Dec. 31, 2009, was $1.461 million, a 21 percent decrease from the $1.849 million reported for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008.

M. Ray “Hoppy” Cole, president and CEO, said, “Forty-two consecutive quarters of profit speak well for our company. Additionally, the last two quarters of 2009 showed increased earnings over the comparable two quarters of 2008. Shareholders will also be pleased by the board of director’s decision to declare a dividend to our common shareholders. Continued 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.”

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