Solera National Bancorp (SLRK) in Lakewood, Colo., reported a quarterly loss less than a month before it will face a pair of shareholder challenges at its annual meeting.

The $168 million-asset company lost $369,000 in the first quarter, or 14 cents a share. Solera lost $638,000 in the fourth quarter and earned $181,000 a year earlier.

A big reason for the loss was noninterest expense, which rose by 6% from a year earlier, to $2.7 million, on slightly higher employee compensation and a spike in professional fees.

Solera is working on is expense base, John Carmichael, the company's president and chief executive, said in a press release.

"Recently, the company took decisive action to right-size the business, trim expenses to improve productivity and efficiency, and renew focus on our core strengths in developing commercial loan and deposit relationships and residential mortgage lending," he said.

"Many of our initiatives were implemented during first quarter … and the company's results have yet to demonstrate the full impact of these actions," he added. "With loan demand modestly improving in the Denver area market, the primary driver of growth for Solera is winning market share from other financial institutions through our high-touch commercial client service model."

Net interest income rose 24% from a year earlier, to $1.3 million. The net interest margin expanded by 62 basis points, to 3.37%. The company did not record a loan-loss provision in the first quarter.

Noninterest income fell 40% from a year earlier, to $1 million, as the company recorded lower gains from loan and securities sales.

Michael Quagliano, who owns more than 23% of the company's stock, and Kathleen Stout, a former employee, are attempting to have several nominees placed on Solera's board at its May 22 annual meeting.

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