Columbia Bancorp's profit rises 8%

Earnings per share grow from 30 cents to 32 cents

April 17, 2002|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Columbia Bancorp earnings increased 8.3 percent in the first quarter, with strong loan growth helping to lead the charge, the company said yesterday.

The Columbia firm is the parent to Columbia Bank.

For the three months that ended March 31, earnings were $2.34 million, up from $2.16 million reported in first quarter 2001. Earnings per share were 32 cents on a fully diluted basis, a slight increase from the 30 cents per share in last year's first quarter. Total loans rose to $616.5 million, a 13.6 percent increase on an annualized basis.

"Columbia had another great quarter," said Gary B. Townsend, an analyst who follows the bank for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey in Arlington, Va.

In addition to the strong loan growth, Townsend said Columbia has significantly improved its asset quality, a step that reduces some of the financial risks all banks face. Non-performing assets and past-due loans dropped by $5.24 million, or 63.6 percent, to $3.01 million.

"That was one area where they've been doing a lot of work," Townsend said.

Total assets reached $864.28 million, while stockholders' equity reached $70.6 million as of March 31 - both records, the bank said.

"We thought it was a very strong quarter," said John M. Bond Jr., Columbia's president and chief executive officer. "It turned out very well for us."

Columbia has 22 branches, and has plans to open one in Bowie sometime later this year, Bond said.

Shares of Columbia closed yesterday at $19.35, up 20 cents.

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