CWM Mortgage Holdings on Wednesday reported a 38% increase in first quarter earnings, to $21.3 million. Earnings per share were 42 cents, a 17% increase over the year-earlier quarter.

CWM's board declared a cash dividend of 42 cents a share for the first quarter, payable June 2 to holders of record of May 2. CWM paid a cash dividend of 36 cents a share for the comparable quarter a year earlier.

During the first quarter, CWM and its affiliate, Independent National Mortgage Corp., purchased $1.2 billion of jumbo and nonconforming mortgage loans, up 20%. This included $47 million of subprime loans. The company also sold loans totaling $732 million in the form of real estate mortgage investment conduit securities.

The company's master servicing portfolio, which totaled $11.4 billion as of March 31, 1997, increased by $278 million during the quarter, a gain of 2.4%.

Prepayments were virtually unchanged from the fourth-quarter level, at $365 million.

The company's investment portfolio increasing by about 12% to a total of $2.3 billion. Interest income from these investments was $43.1 million, a gain of 3.4%.

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