Triangle Bancorp of Raleigh is on its way to becoming North Carolina's 10th-largest bank holding company, and it's posting impressive numbers in the process.

It reported 1994 earnings of just over $3 million, a 72% increase from 1993. The jump resulted mainly from an acquisition completed more than a year ago that about doubled the company's asset size to $323 million.

"Most of the earnings growth is merger related," said Vernon Plack, an analyst at Scott & Stringfellow in Richmond, Va. "But they are also doing an outstanding job of competing with the other guys there. It looks like everything is going according to plan."

Part of Triangle's plan this quarter is to wrap up three mergers that will boost its asset size to $635 million. Just two years ago, the holding company ranked 26th in the state with $147 million of assets.

"We have a general strategy to look to grow further," said chief financial officer Debra L. Lee. "But this will only be done if we can show that there is additional shareholder value."

Triangle's return on assets for 1994 slipped to 1.01% from 1.12% for 1993, but Ms. Lee said this was better than expected for the year. The bank had projected an ROA of 0.85% for 1994, reflecting the streamlining costs necessitated by the previous merger, she said.

"We feel really good at reaching 1.01% ROA," Ms. Lee said. "We didn't anticipate being there."

Triangle Bancorp is the parent company of Triangle East Bank, which operates 14 offices in central and eastern North Carolina.

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