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Mercury S&L Doubles Profit in 4th Quarter

January 29, 1986|JAMES S. GRANELLI | Times Staff Writer

Bolstered by a record number of borrowers and a drop in the cost of obtaining money to loan them, Huntington Beach-based Mercury Savings & Loan Assn. posted record net income of $11 million last year, more than twice the $4.9 million in net earnings the previous year.

Profits for the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, also more than doubled to $5 million from $2.2 million the previous year.

Mercury's results reflect the strong performance turned in by the savings industry as a whole last year.

With low interest rates and a rejuvenated real estate market fueling the boom, the 214 California S&Ls are expected to show total earnings of $1.1 billion for 1985, the first time the industry would go over the $1 billion mark in the state, said Kirk Hallahan of the California League of Savings Institutions.

One example of the industry's strength can be measured by the stock activity of Downey Savings & Loan Assn., which started out the year on the American Stock Exchange at $9.37 and ended it on the New York Stock Exchange at $41.87. That made Downey the second highest performing stock last year with a 346.7% rise in its price, according to Barron's, a weekly financial journal.

"There's no question the industry as a whole had an excellent year--our best since 1978," Hallahan said.

At Mercury Savings, financial results showed substantial gains in all of the S&L's operating divisions last year, including a record $814 million in total loans originated, according to Ronald P. Hansen, senior vice president for finance. Mercury originated $798 million in loans during 1984.

Point Spread

Hansen said a 2.53 percentage-point difference between the interest rate Mercury earned on loans and investments and the rate it paid on deposits and borrowings also attributed to the S&L's record performance. The so-called point spread was 2.18 percentage points in the previous year.

Mercury's assets on Dec. 31 were $2.15 billion, up 3.8% from $2.07 billion a year earlier. The S&L's regulatory net worth also improved on Dec. 31 to 3.5% of assets compared with 3.1% a year earlier. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which looks at net worth as a measure of an S&L's soundness, requires a minimum net worth of 3%.

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