The 250 shareholders crowded into the poorly ventilated auditorium of Suburban Bancorporation's headquarter's in Hyattsville yesterday were served an executive's sketchy retelling of the annual report's account of the holding of the annual report's account of the holding company's solid 1976 performance.
But an unexpected piece de resistance, crowning the otherwise desultory stockholders' meeting like a golden meringue, was the announcement that first-quarter 1977 earnings increased 6.3 per cent to $2.4 million, for 55 cents a share.
Robert F. Tardio, president and chief executive officer, told the standing-room-only gathering that the modest first-quarter gains of the parent Suburban Trust Co. and the Thurmont Bank were caused by increased loan volumes, and an improvement in interest rates.
Suburban Trust operates 58 branches in the subsrbs of the District, Baltimore and Annapolis. Thurmont Bank operates 4 offices in central Maryland.
Tardio told the shareholders that the holding company is among the most profitable in the nation. Quoting from a recent article in Business Week magazine, he said the average bank ruturn on assets in the United States is 0.7 per cent, or about half the 1.13 per cent Suburban registered in 1976.
"A bank's return on assets is the best single indication of a bank's profitability," he said, "and we've got one of the highest."
While the holding company's income was down 4 per cent in 1976 compared with 1975 Tardio said the causes- lower interest rates and soft loan demand - should not reoccur if the economy continues to improve. And the first-quarter results appeared to bear that out.
"As we move slowly out of the economic slowdown," he said, "earnings should return to higher levels."
The company's income for 1976 totaled $71,487,000 with earnings of $10,369,000, or $2.37 a share. Suburban listed assets of $928,388,000 plus deposits of $828,522,000 last year.
While the $1.20-a-share dividend paid out in 1976 involved 50.7 per cent of the company's net income, it wasn't enough for an unidentified shareholder who is also a stockbroker, "I've been recommending Suburban to my clients for a long time as a good investment," he said, "but we've got to do something to make the stock a more attractive investment."
He told chairman Joseph Richards Jr. that higher dividends or a stock split should be voted in 1977 in order to draw more investors to the issue.
"On one would be happier than to see a higher value on Suburban stock," Richards responded. He explained that the real-estate-prientation of the bank had dampened earnings, which restricted dividend payments. "We've done much better than other banks in the area that also have heavy real estate loans. We've managed to keep our losses minimal and maintain our profits. But we can't pay out beyond what our earnings permit us," Richards said.
Following the unchallenged nomination and election of 12 white males to the Bancorp.'s board, the executives were questioned politely for the third consecutive year on the absence of women and minorities on the board.
"We are anxious to place women and minorities on the board," Richards told the audience. "We've been studying it for three years." CAPTION:
Picture 1, Part of overflow crowd at Suburban Bancorporation meeting hears . . . Photos by Ken Feil - The Washington Post; Picture 2, . . . chairman Joseph Richards Jr., and president Robert F. Tardio.