First Mariner 'is clicking,' 3rd-quarter results show Net income soars 75%, assets more than double, loans rise 66%


First Mariner Bancorp grew at a blistering pace in the third quarter, as net income rose more than 75 percent, assets more than doubled, and loans jumped 66 percent, the company said yesterday.

The Baltimore-based First Mariner, run by shipping executive Edwin F. Hale Sr., made $180,991 for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, or 5 cents per share, compared with $103,194, or 3 cents per share, for the same period a year earlier.

For the first nine months, the company made $486,233, or 15 cents per share, compared with $191,276, or 6 cents per share, for the same period in 1997.

"It is clicking," said Hale, the 3-year-old bank's chairman and chief executive, who expects continued growth ahead.

Shares of First Mariner closed at $13.1875 yesterday, down 18.75 cents.

First Mariner's deposits shot up 43 percent to $248.8 million in the quarter, and assets jumped 116 percent to $459.8 million. Hale expects assets to climb to $500 million by the end of the year.

The company also plans to open six to eight branches next year, adding to its 22-branch network, he said.

Hale said that the company acquired a 19.5 percent stake in TC Glen Burnie Bancorp on Monday evening after nearly a year of bitter fighting between the two companies. Glen Burnie Bancorp has about $225 million in assets.

Collyn Bement, a bank analyst at Ferris, Baker Watts Inc. in Baltimore, said she is keeping a close eye on First Mariner's loan portfolio, which rocketed to $219.1 million in the quarter, up from $132.4 million a year earlier.

"I am just watching their asset quality," she said. "I am looking for them to slow growth in 1999 and start to digest all of this growth. Next year is going to be a key year for them."

Hale said the company has had strong demand from small- and mid-sized businesses in Baltimore and Washington. Mortgage loans generated by First Mariner Mortgage Corp., a subsidiary of the company, have more than tripled to $155.8 million, up from $48.7 million closed a year earlier.

He said the bank has been "pretty conservative" lending money to customers, and loans are backed by collateral.

"We are watching our loans a little bit more carefully," Hale said. Despite the rapid growth, First Mariner's loan quality remains strong with the number of delinquent credits declining to $2.8 million in the quarter, compared with $3.6 million for the corresponding period a year earlier.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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