A Baltimore bank that has been one of the faster-growing new banks on the East Coast reported its first quarterly profit last week, two years after being founded.

"The general consensus was we would hear of a profitable quarter after three years," First Mariner Bancorp chairman Edwin F. Hale Sr. said. "Doing it in under two years makes everyone from the directors to the staff to the stockholders feel pretty good."

First Mariner earned $24,076 in the quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of $325,718 for the same quarter last year.

Mr. Hale, a former Bank of Baltimore chief executive officer who started First Mariner after his former bank was bought by First Fidelity Bancorp, credits an aggressive strategy to attract the loans and deposits of customers who didn't want to bank with larger out-of-town rivals.

"We refer to these people as 'refugee customers,'" Mr. Hale said. "We're taking them and giving them-once they're thrown out-a soft place to land."

Net loans increased by 149.2% from the year-earlier level to $107 million. Deposits increased 144.8% to $118.9 million. First Mariner, which started out with $35 million of assets and four branches, now tops $156 million of assets and has 14 branches.

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