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Alabama's SouthTrust Bank posts record quarterly profit

The Southeast economy may take a licking, but earnings at Alabama's SouthTrust Corp. seem to keep on ticking.

The banking company, operator of the fifth-largest bank in Florida, on Monday reported record profits of $29.1-million or 63 cents per share for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30. That's up from $23.6-million and 55 cents per share for the same three-month period in 1991.

Thanks to falling interest rates, banks have prospered by lowering the rates on deposits faster than they have dropped rates on loans. As a result, record earnings for the quarter appear likely for many banks in Florida and across the country.

SouthTrust's plan is no different from the other Alabama banks: to move into the faster growing markets in the Southeast, said Kathryn H. Bissette, bank analyst with Atlanta's Sterne, Agee and Leach.

"Now they are looking to expand market share and improve profitability," she said.

Non-performing assets at the Birmingham-based company stood at $134.5-million, down $27-million from the third quarter of 1991 and $1.1-million less than in the second quarter of this year.

SouthTrust operates 40 banks in six states with total assets at Sept. 30 of $11.6-billion, up 16 percent over the $10-billion a year ago. In the Tampa Bay area, SouthTrust recently said it was merging its Tampa-based bank into its bank in St. Petersburg, which has been renamed SouthTrust Bank of West Florida. It also plans to buy Colony Bank in Clearwater.

Other area banks reporting record earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 include:

AmSouth Bancorp., also based in Birmingham, Ala., reported record net income of $26.3-million, a 29.9 percent increase over third-quarter 1991 results. In Florida, AmSouth owns AmSouth Bank of Florida with 23 banking offices in northwest Florida.

Terrace Bank of Florida in Temple Terrace earned $92,910, up from $20,331 a year ago.

First National Bank of Manatee in Bradenton reported profits of $247,000, up from $121,000 for the third quarter of 1991.