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1st Mariner Bancorp posts first quarterly profit in 5 years

Troubled 1st Mariner Bancorp said Wednesday that it made $1.8 million, or 10 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2012, the first time the Baltimore-based institution showed a quarterly profit in five years.

In the first quarter of 2011, 1st Mariner lost $7.3 million. The company’s last quarterly profit came in March 2007, when it earned 2 cents per share.

“We are encouraged by the progress we have made in improving our operating results,” Mark A. Keidel, 1st Mariner’s interim chief executive officer, said in a release. “Overall economic conditions in our market have improved as unemployment levels eased and values of homes and commercial properties appear to have stabilized.”

First Mariner’s shares gained 6.6 cents, or 16.3 percent, Wednesday to close at 47.1 cents.

In the release, 1st Mariner said net interest income for the first quarter, which ended March 31, was $7.6 million, compared to $6.8 million in the first quarter of 2011. The net interest margin improved to 3.17 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to 2.84 percent in the first quarter of 2011. The improvement was due to lower interest rates paid on deposits.

First Mariner has been beset with capital concerns. A deal announced in April 2011 would have seen private equity firm Priam Capital Fund I LP invest $36.4 million in 1st Mariner, but only after the bank raised $123.6 million in new capital.

In the agreement, Priam reserved the right to terminate the deal if the bank and its parent company had not raised $70.3 million by July 18 or $123.6 million by the start of September. The deadlines are not automatic and must be acted on by Priam, which has so far let the deadlines pass without pulling out of the deal.

Last month, First Mariner Bank acquired almost 25 percent of Elkton-based Cecil Bank as collateral after a borrower ceased making payments on a loan.