HYATTSVILLE, Md. - Maryland Federal Bancorp went over the $1 billion- asset mark for the first time in its history, but its earnings took a hit in the process.

For the fiscal third quarter ended Nov. 30, the company, which is the parent of Maryland Federal Savings and Loan Association, earned $2.4 million. This was an 18% drop in earnings from the same period a year ago.

For the nine-month period, earnings fell 25% to $7.2 million, the company reported.

The declines were attributed to the increase in deposit costs and in the costs of borrowed funds needed to support the company's asset growth, said president and chief executive Robert H. Halleck.

These losses offset the $210,000 growth in net interest income.

The thrift, which operates 26 offices in five Maryland counties, grew to $1.02 billion assets from $872 million a year ago.

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