LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Providian Corp.'s credit card bank surpassed $5 billion in managed loans in the first quarter as earnings continued to rise at a robust pace.

Pretax earnings of Providian Bancorp, the San Francisco-based card issuer known for its market segmentation strategies, were $42.1 million, 28% more than in the first quarter last year.

Managed loans at the end of the first quarter were $5.1 billion, up 29.8%.

The company said the earnings increase reflected growth in consumer accounts and balances, strong net interest margins, and fee-based income. Net credit losses for unsecured receivables, before securitization, were 4.3%, down from 5.2% a year earlier.

The bank's parent, a diversified insurance and financial services company, reported first-quarter operating earnings of $94.5 million, or 96 cents a share, up 7%. The figure excludes realized investment gains and losses and related amortization net of tax.

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