First Mariner reports $3.4 million loss

Snowstorms hurt revenue at Baltimore's largest independent bank

May 04, 2010|By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun

First Mariner Bancorp reported Tuesday a loss of $3.4 million in the first quarter, blaming the heavy snowstorms this year for contributing to a steep decline in its mortgage banking revenue.

In the same quarter a year ago, the parent of Baltimore's largest independent bank lost $3.1 million. The company lost 53 cents per share in the first quarter compared with a loss of 48 cents per share in the first quarter a year ago.

"They still have all their problems, both in terms of continuing losses which erode capital and the fact that they still fall short of what they need to meet their regulator [requirements]," banking analyst Bert Ely said. "The pain continues."

During the quarter ended March 31, First Mariner completed a complicated deal that eliminated $20 million in debt in exchange for $2 million in common stock. The company said the exchange resulted in a $13 million gain after taxes and boosted its capital levels.

In a public offering that ended after the first quarter, the company raised $10.9 million. It was about half the amount First Mariner had hoped to raise to meet banking regulators' demands that the company raise its capital levels by the end of June.

Nonetheless, Edwin F. Hale Sr., First Mariner's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement, "We are making large strides and executed a number of strategic initiatives in the quarter."

Among the first-quarter highlights, First Mariner's mortgage banking income totaled $2.5 million, a 48 percent decline from a year ago. Last year, the mortgage business was exceptionally strong and this year's snowstorm kept more people from shopping for houses and delayed the loan process, the company said.

Revenue totaled $12.7 million in the first quarter, a $600,000 decline from a year ago. Outstanding loans fell 11 percent to $872 million, largely because of the sale of Mariner Finance last year, the company said. Money flowing into certificates of deposits helped pushed deposits up 16 percent to $1.2 billion.

First Mariner's stock fell 23 cents Tuesday to $1.48 per share.

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