Bank card issuers earned an estimated 3.9% return on assets in 1994, according to an informal industry survey by investment banker Robert K. Hammer.

The healthy pretax return, up 60 basis points from 1993, is the result of continued improvements in operating expenses, a decrease in chargeoffs, and a favorable blended cost of funds, said Mr. Hammer, chairman and chief executive of R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, Newbury Park, Calif.

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