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Earnings gains posted by number of area banks


A spate of area banks yesterday reported slightly improved earnings in both the second quarter and first half of 1995, thanks to strong loan demand and cost control programs.

First Fidelity Bancorp., Crestar Financial Corp., Citizens Bancorp and Columbia Bancorp all posted gains in net income for the second quarter that ended June 30. Only FCNB Corp. reported a thin decline in earnings compared with the same period a year ago.

"What you're seeing is everyone coming out either flat or slightly up in the quarter, due to their respective sensitivity to interest rates, measures at cost controls and other factors," said Alex Hart, a Ferris, Baker Watts Inc. industry analyst.

First Fidelity, which last month agreed to a merger with First Union Corp., produced net income of $115.3 million, or $1.34 per share on a fully diluted basis, in the second quarter for a 3.3 percent gain vs. the identical three-month period in 1994.

The Lawrenceville, N.J.-based bank, which bought Baltimore Bancorp, parent of the Bank of Baltimore, in November 1994 and in June acquired the 24 area branches of Household Bank FSB, " reported six-month earnings of $228.2 million, $2.62 per share, a 3.5 percent jump compared with 1994's first half. Its assets increased to $35.6 billion as of June 30, while deposits rose to $28.8 billion and loans to $24 billion.

First Fidelity's planned merger with First Union for $5.4 billion is slated to create the nation's sixth-largest banking company with roughly $124 billion in assets.

Tony Terracciano, First Fidelity's chairman and chief executive, said the bank's performance was "on plan," and that the two institutions are "moving at full speed . . . to achieve as quickly as possible the earnings synergies that the combination will create," according to a prepared statement.

Crestar Financial, which is also participating in the bank merger frenzy with recent agreements to purchase Loyola Capital Corp. and Chase Bank of Maryland, reported record net income of $47.4 million, or $1.24 per share, in the period that ended June 30.

The 11 percent quarterly increase was outpaced only by the 12 percent jump in Crestar's six-month net income performance of $93 million, $2.44 per share.

"Record earnings have been driven by strong loan growth among both consumers and commercial customers," said Richard G. Tilghman, Crestar's chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement.

Crestar's assets remained relatively flat as of June 30, at $14.6 billion.

At Citizens Bancorp, net income in the second quarter rose 11.5 percent to $8.7 million, or 59 cents per share. Assets for the holding company for the Laurel-based Citizens Bank of Maryland also reached a record high $3.8 billion.

FCNB Corp., the Frederick-based parent to FCNB Bank and Elkridge Bank, posted a slight decline in earnings with $1.35 million, or 33 cents per share. FCNB, a community bank which recently signed an agreement to acquire Laurel Bancorp Inc., had net income of $2.66 million, or 65 cents per share, for 1995's first six months. Like its quarterly performance, the first-half result was flat vs. a year ago. FCNB's assets amounted to $535 million at the close of the first half.

Columbia Bancorp posted strong gains in the reporting periods as well, generating second-quarter earnings of $757,208, or 49 cents per share, for a 24 percent increase from a year ago. Its first-half earnings maintained that earnings' pace, when the Columbia-based bank reported net income of $1.4 million.

John M. Bond Jr., Columbia Bancorp's president and CEO, echoed Crestar's head in accounting for the increases, attributing the solid half to loan demand and net interest margins.

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