1st Mariner profit more than doubles 'We were pretty happy with the quarter'

Banking

July 22, 1998|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Surging demand for business and mortgage loans helped First Mariner Bancorp more than double its net income and assets in the second quarter, the banking company said yesterday.

First Mariner made $153,711, or 5 cents per basic share, in the quarter ended June 30, compared with $64,000, or 2 cents per basic share, in the corresponding period a year earlier.

More remarkably, assets surged 103 percent to $349.1 million in the second quarter, up from $172.1 million in the 1997 quarter.

"We do expect to continue to grow pretty strongly," said Joseph A. Cicero, president of the Baltimore-based banking company. "We were pretty happy with the quarter."

Cicero said net income is still not at the level that company executives want it to be, but that is because First Mariner is plowing money into new branches and more employees. The 3-year-old bank currently has 250 employees and 18 branches and plans to open four more branches this year, Cicero said.

For the first half of the year, First Mariner made $305,053, or 10 cents per basic share, compared with $88,082, or 3 cents per basic share, in the corresponding period a year earlier.

Loans jumped 53 percent in the second quarter, to $183.8 million, and deposits were up nearly 73 percent to $222.7 million. First Mariner Mortgage closed $93.7 million in residential first mortgage loans during the first half of the year, more than three times the loans it closed in the year-earlier period.

Cicero said the company's growth, although robust, is under control. He said the bank is not taking undue credit risk, and that problem loans fell to $2.8 million in the second quarter, from $3.8 million a year earlier.

"We look at that [loans] very, very carefully," he said.

Cicero said the Federal Reserve Board has not yet responded to the company's request to buy 170,883 shares of Glen Burnie Bancorp stock from a large stockholder. First Mariner owns about 5,551 shares of the competing community bank's stock. The acquisition would boost its stake to 19.5 percent.

First Mariner's stock lost 75 cents yesterday to close at $13.375.

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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