Columbia Bancorp net up 17%

Banking

April 13, 1999|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Columbia Bancorp's net income jumped 17.3 percent for the first quarter as loans grew and expenses were held in check, the company said yesterday.

The Columbia banking company, which is the parent of Columbia Bank, made $1.26 million in the first quarter that ended March 31, compared with $1.07 million in the same period a year earlier.

The company made 27 cents per diluted share for the quarter, up 17.4 percent from the 23 cents per diluted share for the same period in 1998.

"It seems like it was a pretty clean quarter for them," said Collyn Bement, a banking analyst at Ferris, Baker Watts Inc. in Baltimore. "I think there is still room for them to reduce expenses. That could help them sustain double-digit earnings growth going forward."

Columbia rebounded in the latest quarter after heavy competition and back-to-back interest-rate cuts dampened profit for the fourth quarter of 1998.

"We saw better loan growth than we had seen in a while," said John A. Scaldara Jr., Columbia's chief financial officer. "It was just a solid quarter for us."

Assets rose 12.8 percent to $441.5 million for the quarter, deposits were up 8.9 percent to $349.7 million, and net loans were $280 million, up 5.9 percent.

The company's expenses inched up 2 percent for the quarter to $3.861 million, compared with $3.778 million in the 1998 period.

"They contained them," Bement said. "A 2 percent increase in expenses is impressive."

Problem loans declined to $479,000, or 0.2 percent of total outstanding loans March 31, compared with $3 million, which represented 1.1 percent of outstanding loans Dec. 31, 1998.

Shares of Columbia closed at $14.25 yesterday, down 12.5 cents.

Pub Date: 4/13/99

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