Columbia Bancorp earnings rise 8.4%

1998 numbers applauded, `but it was a very challenging year'


January 22, 1999|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Columbia Bancorp's net income rose 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter, despite slowing loan growth, the company said yesterday.

The Columbia-based banking company made $1.205 million in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, compared with $1.112 million in the fourth quarter of 1997.

Columbia made 26 cents per diluted share, up 8.3 percent, compared with 24 cents per diluted share in the corresponding period a year earlier.

"We are very pleased with 1998's results, but it was a very challenging year," said John A. Scaldara Jr., Columbia Bancorp's chief financial officer. "We have been faced with a tough lending market and a tough interest rate environment."

For the 12 months, net income was up 13.9 percent to $4.75 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, compared with $4.17 million, or 91 cents per diluted share, posted for the previous 12 months.

Columbia's assets rose 14.4 percent to $427.3 million; deposits were up 8.3 percent to $339.3 million; and loans rose 3.5 percent to $274.4 million.

While loans were up, they grew more slowly because of cutthroat competition, Scaldara said.

"The competition is across the board," he said.

He said the bank has remained cautious, maintaining conservative loan underwriting standards.

He said three back-to-back interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve Board last year, helped dampen profit by forcing many banks, including Columbia, to offer loans at more generous terms.

"It is going to continue to be a challenge, assuming interest rates continue to remain stable," Scaldara said.

Shares of Columbia Bancorp closed unchanged at $16 yesterday.

Pub Date: 1/22/99

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