The credit card lending specialists Providian Financial Corp. and Metris Cos. each approximately doubled first-quarter earnings, buoying hopes that card industry profits can continue their upward course.

The two issuers' year-to-year percentage increases-102% for Providian and 93% for Metris-outdid those of the larger monoline lenders MBNA Corp. and Capital One Financial Corp., which reported 25% and 13%, respectively, last week.

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