Fidelity National Corp. of Decatur, Ga., released its 1998 earnings this week, but the company made bigger news with its 1997 results.

After discovering an error, the $700 million-asset company said it had to restate its 1997 earnings, cutting them by more than half. Fidelity said it made $963,000 in 1997, or 15 cents per share. A year ago, the bank said those earnings were $1.8 million, or 33 cents per share.

While compiling this year's final results, Fidelity said it realized it had overstated the value of an asset in 1997. With the lower value, the asset produced higher than expected loan prepayments and credit losses, which in turn lowered 1997 earnings.

But the company had some good news, too. Last year's net income was $3.9 million, or 43 cents per share. And on Dec. 1, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released the company's subsidiary, Fidelity National Bank, from restrictions on capital levels and dividend payments.

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