Fidelity Southern posts first profit in nearly two years

Atlanta-based Fidelity Southern Corp. on Thursday reported its first quarterly profit in nearly two years.

The company, which operates Fidelity Bank, the second-largest bank based in metro Atlanta, said it earned $1.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. That compares to a loss of $7.7 million in the fourth quarter a year earlier.

Fideltiy lost $425,000 in the third quarter of 2009 and more than $8 million in the first two quarters of last year.

Bank officials said several things have gone right to help the bank become one of the first Georgia lenders to jump from the red into the black. The bank’s pool of troubled loans is shrinking while income has increased, in part from its booming home mortgage division.

The bank’s chairman, James B. Miller, said the bank was quick to deal with the real estate crisis, booking large losses in 2008 to cover troubled loans.

“We got ahead of the curve and are coming out” of the crisis earlier, Miller said.

Miller said the bank is growing its loan portfolio, though potential borrowers are heavily scrutinized given the still-rough economy.