VICTORIA, Tex. -- Victoria Bankshares saw its third-quarter operating profits surge 17.4% from a year ago, providing the latest evidence that independent banks along Texas's Gulf Coast region are being rewarded for surviving the late 1980s.

The earnings growth has been accompanied by a 16% increase in size. After three acquisitions in the past 10 months, the company's subsidiary, Victoria Bank and Trust Co., now has 36 branches stretching from north of Houston to the north side of Corpus Christi.

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