Money Store Inc. reported record earnings for the fourth quarter of 1996.

The subprime lender reported a 71% increase in net earnings for the quarter, to $29.8 million.

Annually, earnings increased 76% to $85.7 million.

Strong growth in loan originations is responsible for the company's success, president Marc Turtletaub said in a written statement.

Home equity loans, which represent roughly two-thirds of the company's portfolio, grew 35% for the quarter, for an annual total of $4.2 billion.

Overall, the company's serviced loan portfolio increased 41% to $12.2 billion in 1996.

Delinquencies rose 21 basis points in the company's home equity loan portfolio during the quarter, to 5.95%.

But delinquencies in both the small-business and auto-finance loan pools decreased, by 11 basis points and 16 basis points, respectively.

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