FARGO, N.D. -- Community First Bankshares reported record third-quarter net income of $2.98 million, 27.4% more than the year-earlier $2.3 million.

Earnings per share were 38 cents, up 31% from the 29 cents earned in the third quarter of last year.

"Our focus on community banking and quality customer service continues to result in strong loan growth in our local banks," said Donald R. Mengedoth, president and chief executive officer.

Community First's loan portfolio grew 23.6% over the past year. Excluding acquisitions, the banking company's loans were up 12.3%. Core deposits, excluding acquisitions, grew 3.7%. Assets at Sept. 30 were $1.2 billion, up from $972 million a year earlier. Deposits increased to $1 billion, from $838 million.

Loans were $654 million, compared with $530 million a year earlier. Nonperforming assets were 0.31% of total assets, compared with 0.51% a year earlier.

For the nine months, Community First earned $8.3 million, or $1.05 per share, compared with $7 million, or 85 cents per share last year. After a credit of $359,000 for the cumulative effect of an according change, net income for the nine months of 1993 was $8.7 million, equal to $1.10 per share.

The company said it expects to complete its acquisition of Rural American Bank of Greenwald, Minn., on Nov. 1.

The $17 million-asset bank, which has offices in Greenwald and New Munich, will be merged into Community First State Bank of Paynesville to create a bank with $52 million in assets.

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