Profit nearly quadruples at First Mariner Bancorp; Fourth-quarter net of $636,876 exceeds analysts' forecasts; Banking


First Mariner Bancorp Inc. continued its torrid growth in the fourth quarter, with the company reporting yesterday that net income nearly quadrupled in the three months ending Dec. 31.

The Baltimore-based parent company of First Mariner Bank said it had quarterly net income of $636,876, or 21 cents per share.

For the same quarter of the previous year, the company had $174,060 in net income, or 7 cents per share.

The quarterly earnings exceeded analysts' expectations, and First Mariner's stock gained 25 cents to close at $12.

Annual profit tripled

For the year, First Mariner posted net income of $1.12 million, or 36 cents per share. This was triple 1997's net income of $365,336, or 12 cents per share.

The company also showed strong increases in assets and loans. Its total assets were $498.1 million as of Dec. 31, 93.8 percent more than the $257 million the company had at the same point the previous year.

First Mariner's total loans as of Dec. 31 were $243.1 million, an increase of 68.7 percent over the $144.1 million it had at the end of 1997.

Edwin F. Hale Sr., First Mariner's chairman, chief executive officer and founder, said the company will continue to add branches this year, establishing two more in the next month and another three or four by the end of the year.

However, Hale said, First Mariner -- which has not even reached its fourth anniversary -- might see a cooling of growth this year.

"I don't think we can maintain this pace, because as we get bigger, it will be harder to increase our growth," Hale said.

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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