First Maryland on record profit again

FIRST Maryland Bancorp, the US subsidiary of Allied Irish Bank, yesterday announced the best annual profits of its 187-year history. The bank, with nearly 170 branches in the Maryland-Pennsylvania area, made 1992 earnings of dollars 93m ( pounds 62m), up 23 per cent over the record dollars 75m in 1991.

For the quarter ending 31 December, FMB's net income was dollars 24m, about the same as the comparable quarter in 1991.

The retail commercial bank attributed its record earnings to cost control, improved profit margins on interest, higher income from non-interest sources, and lower provisions set aside for possible credit losses.

Loan loss provisions totalled dollars 56m for 1992, compared with dollars 69m in 1991. Non-performing assets rose slightly to dollars 199m from dollars 197m, partly related to FMB's acquisition of York Bank of Pennsylvania.

Charles Cole, president and chief executive officer, said the bank's compound earnings growth of 20 per cent since 1983 amid some of the most difficult banking challenges in half a century was 'evidence of the long-term success of First Maryland's historic operating philosophy of balance and diversification'.

The bank's subsidiaries include First National Bank of Maryland, York Bank, First Omni Bank, and First National Bank of Maryland, DC.

AIB Group shares in London rose 3p to 194p.

Tony McPoland, of Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin, called the results 'very good indeed'. In contrast, he forecast that First New Hampshire, the US subsidiary of Bank of Ireland, AIB's rival, will make a 1992 loss of dollars 70m.

'FMB avoided the major excesses of real estate lending in the late 1980s, so it was not as exposed as other banks,' he said. Better profits for FMB and other Maryland/Washington DC banks signal regional recovery, but loan demand is slow to return.

Mr McPoland predicted that FMB would make 1993 profits of dollars 100m.