Commerce Bancorp Net Jumps

Deposit and loan growth offset a decline in interest margin.
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Commerce Bancorp

(CBH) - Get Report

, the acquisitive New Jersey bank whose breakneck growth has made it a target of short-sellers, said first-quarter earnings surged 24% from a year ago, driven by deposit and loan growth.

The company earned $77.1 million, or 45 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with earnings of $62.0 million, or 37 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 21% from a year ago to $382.6 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $392.7 million in the latest quarter.

Commerce's net interest income rose 21% in the quarter to $278.9 million despite a 12-basis-point reduction in the net interest margin, which measures the profitability of loans. "The increase in net interest income in the quarter was due to volume increases in interest earning assets resulting from the Company's strong, low-cost core deposit growth," the company said.

Total deposits were $29.5 billion at March 31, 2005, up 29% from a year ago. The company added $1.8 billion in deposits in the first quarter. Total loans were $9.98 billion at the end of the quarter, up 28% from a year ago.

Commerce said its allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans was 1.40% at March 31, compared with 1.43% at Dec. 31 and 1.48% at March 31, 2004.

Commerce shares, about 20% are short interest, closed Tuesday at $31.65.