After suffering losses on real estate loans for three straight years, Patriot National Bancorp in Stamford, Conn., has now turned a profit in two consecutive quarters.

The $666 million-asset company said after the market closed Monday that it earned $443,000 in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $4.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. It reported a profit of $255,000 in last year's third quarter.

The company attributed the results to improved credit quality and a widening net interest margin resulting from double-digit loan growth.

Nonperforming assets fell from $106 million, or 13.5% assets at Dec. 31, 2010, to $23.4 million, of 3.52% of assets, at the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, total loans rose 11%, to $501 million, which helped boost the net interest margin by 50 basis points year over year, to 3.20%.

"Our team's success in executing our recovery plan on schedule allowed us to end the year with two consecutive quarters of profitability … and restore the bank to stable footing," Chairman Michael Carrazza said in a news release.

For the year, Patriot lost $15.5 million, though that was largely related to a bulk sale of nearly $67 million loans in the first quarter and $3 million of restructuring charges in the second quarter. The company lost $15.4 million in 2010.

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