SANTA MONICA, Calif - Firstfed Financial Corp., the parent of First Federal Bank of California, reported third-quarter earnings of $3.6 million, up from $703,000 a year earlier.

Firstfed attributed the increase to a reduction in nonperforming assets to 3.47% of total assets, compared with 4.14% in the prior quarter. Firstfed said its nonperforming assets ratio was 2.76% for the third quarter of 1992.

The company, which has $3.7 billion of assets, recorded a net loss of $4.4 million for the first nine months of 1993, compared with net earnings of $15.4 million for the same period last year. The company said its nine-month loss resulted from a large loan-loss provision in the first quarter.

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