SAN FRANCISCO -- Aided by a one-time $135 million gain from the sale of its Florida operations, California Federal Bank said Monday that it earned $149.5 million in the third quarter. The profit, equal to $2.67 a share, reversed a $56.8 million loss for the comparable 1993 period.

In the third quarter, California Federal wrote off all its goodwill, totaling $270 million. The charge was taken retroactively in the 1994 first quarter, contributing to a $436.1 million net loss reported for the first nine months of 1994.

The third-quarter result for the Los Angelesbased thrift also included a $5.2 million recovery from a $280 million charge taken in the second quarter in connection with the bulk sale of problem assets. California Federal's core earnings of $9.3 million represented its second consecutive quarterly operating profit.

California Federal's operating improvement reflected a far-ranging restructuring program put in place last year by president and chief executive Edward G. Harshfield, now substantially complete. As part of that program, the thrift sold in bulk some $1.3 billion in problem loans and foreclosed property, including $170 million in the most recent quarter.

Thanks largely to those sales, California Federal's nonperforming assets fell to $228.3 million at the end of September, or 1.69% of total assets, 80.3% below the total at the end of the 1993 third quarter. Partly offsetting the credit quality gains was a 9.6% drop in the thrift's net interest income in the third quarter compared to the year-ago period.

The fall in spread income was due both to a lower level of earning assets, reflecting the Florida sale to NationsBank and bulk asset sales, and a narrowing of the thrift's net interest margin. The thrift had $13.5 million of assets at the end of September.

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