Columbia Bancorp earnings jumped 33% in first quarter

36% raise in pay for chief executive

April 20, 2001|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Helped by increased mortgage activity, Columbia Bancorp's core earnings rose to $2.16 million, or 30 cents a share, in the first quarter, 33 percent higher than last year's first quarter, the Columbia-based firm reported yesterday.

Total assets reached a record $855 million, and deposits went from $631 million at the end of 2000 to $682 million as of March 31, fueled largely by accounts held by residential title companies.

"It seemed like it was a decent quarter," said analyst Collyn Bement Gilbert of Ferris Baker Watts. "Trying to gauge what we can expect in the future is where questions may come into play."

The firm, which is the parent of the Columbia Bank, may get squeezed by the Federal Reserve's rate cuts, which will lower the amount the bank charges for loans but will not immediately decrease the interest it must pay on deposits.

Columbia's net interest margin declined to 4.89 percent in the quarter from 5.02 percent in the 2000 quarter. The firm said it anticipates that margins "will continue to come under pressure" as a result of the Fed's actions.

Past-due loans and nonperforming assets jumped 69 percent in the past year to $8.3 million, largely because of a loan to a local manufacturing company.

"We felt it was a very good quarter," said John M. Bond, Jr., president and chief executive. "The decision made over a year ago to merge with Suburban really paid off." Columbia acquired Suburban Bancshares Inc. of Greenbelt in March 2000 in a deal that brought it another $220 million in assets and increased its branches from 15 to 23. The Columbia-based bank took a charge of $2.21 million in the first quarter of 2000 in connection with the acquisition.

According to Columbia's proxy, which was also released yesterday, Bond's salary and bonus for 2000 grew 36 percent to $315,000, and he was awarded 10,000 stock options.

Operating income was up 13.9 percent, while operating expenses increased 9.3 percent.

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