GRANITE FALLS, INC. -- Bank of Granite Corp., which

has one of the highest profitability ratios in the nation, earned a record $2.2 million in the third quarter, 11% more than in the year-earlier period.

Net income on a per share basis for the quarter was 47 cents, compared with 41 cents a year ago.

The i1crease marked the 43d consecutive quarter in which Bank of Granite Corp. earnings exceeded the prior year's comparable quarter.

"We don't think there is a bank in the country that can touch that record," said John A. Forlines Jr., chairman and chief executive of the banking company.

He attributed the favorable earnings to low interest rates, a moderate pickup in loan demand, and an 8.5% increase in earning assets. 1 For the nine months ended Sept. 30, the bank earned $6.4 million, up 10.3% from the prior year.

Net income per share for the nine months was $1.35 versus $1.21. Assets grew to $375 million, up from 9% from a year ago. Deposits increased to $315.4 million, up 8.2%. Loans grew to $237.7 million, up 5%.

Bank of Granite reported a 2.34% return on average assets and a 16.70% return to equity. Its capital-to-assets ratio was 13.99%.

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