After losing millions in 1998, Republic Bancshares Inc. of St. Petersburg, Fla., said it turned things around last year.

The $2.6 billion-asset company announced Tuesday that it earned $10.7 million, or 95 cents a share, in the 12 months that ended Dec. 31. In the previous 12 months it had lost $12.4 million, or $1.34 a share.

Republic also announced it has settled a lawsuit with a vendor of printing and direct mailing services for its now discontinued mortgage banking operation, Flagship Mortgage Services. Republic agreed to pay $716,000, and the vendor agreed to waive all claims for contract payments it had alleged were unpaid.

In 1998, Republic's earnings woe stemmed from a fourth-quarter loss of $21 million at Flagship Mortgage, which got stuck holding risky subprime loans late in the year when the secondary market for them dried up. Republic shuttered the operation last fall, cutting 340 jobs and closing three out-of-state loan production offices.

The Florida company, parent of Republic Bank, operates 82 branches in the state.

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