First Mariner profit plummets 74.6 percent


First Mariner Bancorp reported yesterday that its profit fell 74.6 percent in the first quarter, primarily because of the costs associated with the expansion of the bank's mortgage banking subsidiary.

The parent of First Mariner Bank made $51,069 during the three months that ended March 31, or 2 cents per share. This compared with a profit of $201,537, or 6 cents a share, in the comparable period of 1999.

First Mariner Mortgage Corp., the bank's mortgage banking subsidiary, added six offices during the second half of last year, according to Joseph A. Cicero, First Mariner's president. It has 10 outlets throughout the state.

The mortgage banking unit closed $83.1 million in residential first mortgage loans during the quarter that just ended, an increase of 9.2 percent from the $76.1 million in loans approved in the comparable part of last year.

Edwin F. Hale Sr., First Mariner's chairman and chief executive officer, said the bank added four branch offices during the quarter, bringing the total to 26.

Hale attributed the healthy rise in loans and deposits during the quarter to the expanded banking operations.

First Mariner reported that total assets rose 19.5 percent to $642.5 million at the end of the first quarter. Loans rose 31 percent to 354.7 million, and deposits were up 36 percent to $412.6 million in the three-month period.

Shares of First Mariner were off 75 cents, closing at $5.50 on the Nasdaq market.

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