Though loans and deposits grew, Susquehanna Bancshares Inc. in Lititz, Pa., said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit plummeted 93%, to $1.9 million, or 2 cents a share.

The $13.7 billion-asset company said declining credit quality and the deteriorating economy forced it to boost the provision for loan losses by 257% from a year earlier, to $35 million.

Nonperforming assets made up 1.73% of loans, leases and other real estate owned at the end of the quarter, an increase of 70 basis points from a year earlier. Net chargeoffs were 0.70% of average loans and leases, up 45 basis points.

Susquehanna said its Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. premium jumped to $6 million, from $247,000.

It also paid $4.2 million in dividends on the Treasury Department's preferred stock, reducing the net income available to its common shareholders. The company received $300 million in government capital in December.

Net loans and leases grew 10% from a year earlier and 1% from the fourth quarter, to $9.8 billion.

Total deposits rose 3% from a year earlier and 1% from the fourth quarter, to $9.1 billion.

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