First Cal Ripken Jr., now Bank of Granite Corp.

After 62 consecutive quarters of earnings increases, the Granite Falls, N.C.-based company said third-quarter earnings fell 46% below those of a year earlier, to $1.96 million.

The losses can be traced directly to a single longtime customer, said John A. Forlines Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of the $566 million-asset company. The customer, a textile mill, has fallen on hard times and been unable to repay its loans.

Bank of Granite will increase its loan-loss reserves and take a one-time charge of $3.1 million. Mr. Forlines said the bank did not take action sooner because it hoped the textile company's business would improve.

"We tried to give them every opportunity to generate positive cash flow," Mr. Forlines said.

The earnings streak, which dates back to 1983, had earned Bank of Granite mention in a number of financial publications, including London's The Economist, which wrote a story on the bank last year. Despite the loss, Granite will pay its 177th consecutive quarterly dividend this quarter, Mr. Forlines said.

Also this year, the bank recorded its 45th year of consecutive dividend increase, which it believes to be a record among banks in this country. -Louis Whiteman

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