A sharp increase in problem loans dragged down Porter Bancorp's profits in the first quarter.

The Louisville, Ky., company said late Monday that earned $305,000 in the quarter, down 88% from the same period last year. The $1.7 billion-asset company attributed the drop to a spike in nonperforming assets, specifically in its commercial and residential real estate portfolios. Its nonperforming assets totaled $144 million, or 8.28% of total assets, compared to $128 million, or 7.43% of assets, just three months earlier.

Maria L. Bouvette, the company's president and chief executive officer, said Porter has been steadily shrinking its portfolio of construction and development loans and that such loans now represent 13.8% of its total loans.

Porter is the parent of PBI Bank, which has 18 branches in Kentucky.

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