More than 49 million shares of The South Financial Group were traded Wednesday, and the price plunged 29 percent, a day after the company reported a preliminary third-quarter loss of $340.8 million.
The Greenville-based bank holding company was the sixth most actively traded Nasdaq stock, and its volume exceeded that of such companies as Yahoo! and eBay, according to The Wall Street Journal Market Data Group.
According to trading figures, 49.3 million South Financial shares changed hands, compared with an average daily volume for the company of about 5.5 million shares. South Financial closed down 42 cents, or about 29.4 percent, at $1.01 per share.
In a conference call with analysts, Lynn Harton, South Financial's president and chief executive officer, said the company is struggling under the weight of its continuing financial losses.
Harton said management remains focused on its plan to return to profitability by addressing credit concerns, maintaining a solid capital foundation and strengthening liquidity. "We remain focused on these objectives and continue to execute on our plan," Harton told analysts. He couldn't be reached for comment after the market closed Wednesday.
On Tuesday, after financial markets closed, South Financial reported a net loss of $340.8 million, or $1.95 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30. That compared with a net loss of $31.2 million, or 43 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier period.
Company officials said the latest loss resulted primarily from credit provisions and related costs, as well as a $200 million non-cash charge related to a valuation allowance for deferred tax assets.
Harton also said the results were preliminary, pending completion of a goodwill impairment analysis of the company's Carolina First banking segment.
Any potential impairment would impact the third-quarter results, with a larger financial loss possible, Harton said. However, it would be a non-cash charge with no impact on the company's cash position, liquidity or tangible equity, he said.
For the nine months, South Financial reported a loss of $543 million, or $4.67 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $249.4 million, or $3.44 per diluted share, a year earlier.