First Mariner's results up again, to records for quarter and year

January 22, 2003|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

First Mariner Bancorp reported yesterday that fourth-quarter profit increased 32 percent to a record $1.1 million, the ninth consecutive quarter of increased earnings for the Baltimore-based company.

The results, equivalent to 20 cents a diluted share, compared with $830,000, or 16 cents a share, posted for the fourth quarter of 2001.

The company also reported record annual income of $3.9 million, or 69 cents a diluted share, up from $2.3 million, or 57 cents a share, in 2001.

Edwin F. Hale Sr., company chairman and chief executive officer, attributed the performance gain to development of the franchise, increased visibility and strong demand for loans. First Mariner Bancorp is the parent company of First Mariner Bank and Finance Maryland LLC.

"We ended our most successful year with strong balance sheet growth and continued earnings momentum," Hale said. "Our results for the fourth quarter and the year reflect the successful development of our franchise, and the continued demand for our loan and deposit products."

To increase visibility, Hale said, the company increased the size of supermarket branches in Cockeysville and White Marsh, relocated its Canton headquarters and branch to the corner of Boston and Clinton streets and secured the right to rename the Baltimore Arena to First Mariner Arena. The bank also created a consumer finance company, Finance Maryland LLC, which has five locations and is to add three this year.

Henry J. Coffey, an analyst for Ferris Baker Watts Inc. in Baltimore, said loan activity is boosting bank performance in general.

"Growth in the quarter was driven heavily by the mortgage company," he said. "We're seeing that with everybody."

Loan activity at First Mariner was up 14 percent by the end of 2002. Loans in 2002 were $533.97 million compared with $468.66 million in 2001.

Deposits were $667.64 million, up 11 percent from 2001, when they were $600.59 million. Average deposits per branch exceed $30 million.

Assets were $869.17 million, up 12 percent from the previous year.

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