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Mortgage Refinancings Boost S&Ls' Profits in County : Thrifts: Area's 22 firms post combined $75-million profit for second quarter, up 13% over last year.


The ongoing boom in home loan refinancings helped Orange County's 22 savings and loans post a combined profit of $75 million for the second quarter, according to figures released Friday by the federal government.

The local thrift industry's net income was 13% higher than its earnings of $66.5 million for the second quarter last year.

"Refinancing certainly is still the center point, particularly in California," said Thomas E. Prince, chief financial officer at Downey Savings & Loan. About 80% of the home lending business at the Newport Beach thrift is refinancing, he said.

Many borrowers have continued to take advantage of falling loan rates over the past few years and are on their second and third refinancings, said Carl Gregory, president of Fullerton Savings & Loan.

"A lot of people think this is going to continue into next year," he said.

But Gregory, Prince and others are bracing for a slowdown in refinancings by trying to turn the focus of the efforts to funding mortgages for Southern California home buyers, a market in the doldrums.

"We're continuing to build relationships with realtors so we can be in a good position to take advantage of the home purchase market when it turns up," said Cheryl Warnagieris, marketing director for Household Bank in Newport Beach.

American Savings Bank in Irvine and Household led the 15 thrifts posting quarterly profits, with earnings of $38.4 million and $29 million, respectively. Downey followed with earnings of $9.5 million.

Topping the list of money-losing thrifts was Union Federal Savings Bank, with $11.4 million in red ink. The S&L's parent company, UnionFed Financial Inc. in Brea, said last week that it has won commitments of more than $41 million from investors to revive the ailing thrift.

Following Union Federal with losses of $4.7 million and $3.7 million, respectively, were Guardian Savings in Huntington Beach and San Clemente Savings in Irvine--two failed thrifts being run by federal regulators. Regulators closed San Clemente Savings last month and sold insured deposits and certain assets to Household.

For the first six months of the year, earnings by the county's thrifts rose nearly 10% to $160 million from $145.8 million for the same period of 1992, according to statistics from the Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulates S&Ls.

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