First Mariner Bancorp said Monday that it lost almost $4 million during the three months ending Dec. 31, about the same as a year earlier after accounting for a one-time tax charge in the fourth quarter of 2010.

It was the 19th straight quarter in the red for the Baltimore parent of 1st Mariner Bank, which is struggling to avoid a federal takeover. Not including the tax charge, the company lost $4 million a year earlier.

The company lost $30.2 million during all of last year, down from $46.6 million in 2010. But the company's 2010 performance was better before accounting for income taxes, which totaled about $19 million compared with a small income-tax benefit last year. First Mariner said it took an income-tax charge in the fourth quarter of 2010 related to its deferred tax assets.

Mark A. Keidel, the company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement that First Mariner saw some improvements in the October through December period, including a better net interest margin and lower "controllable" operating expenses.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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