WebMethods Inc. said its revenue grew 10 percent and its loss narrowed in its fiscal third quarter.

The Fairfax-based business software company said it lost $739,000 (1 cent per share) on revenue of $53.8 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $13.9 million (28 cents) on revenue of $49.1 million a year earlier. The company said it experienced a 28 percent increase in licensing revenue from its fiscal second quarter and a 12 percent increase from the year-earlier quarter.

WebMethods makes and sells integration software that links different systems together.

For the first nine months of its fiscal year, WebMethods lost $8.7 million (17 cents) on revenue of $147.7 million, compared with a loss of $67 million ($1.36) on revenue of $145.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

* AvalonBay Communities Inc., an Alexandria-based developer of apartment communities, said it earned $66.8 million (91 cents per share) on revenue of $161.3 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $62.2 million (81 cents) on revenue of $158.4 million a year earlier.

For the full year, AvalonBay earned $173.6 million ($2.23) on revenue of $639 million, compared with $249 million ($3.12) on revenue of $633.8 million in 2001.

The company said that while its overall rental income grew in 2002, rental income at apartment buildings open at least a year dropped 6.3 percent, because of increased vacancy and downward pressure on rental rates.

* Legg Mason Inc., a Baltimore-based asset-management and brokerage firm, reported a 16 percent jump in quarterly earnings as fee revenue for managing its customers' money reached record levels.

The company earned $47.9 million (70 cents per share) on $401 million in revenue in its third quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $41.1 million (60 cents) on $403.8 million in revenue for the same period in 2001.

Legg Mason, once known mainly as a broker-dealer and investment bank, in recent years completed a string of acquisitions of money-management firms and now gets more than half its revenue from asset-management fees. Its investment advisory and related fees rose 4 percent in the quarter, to $215.9 million, on the strength of its institutional, mutual fund and wealth-management operations.

As of December, Legg's assets under management were $184.7 billion, up 9 percent from $170.1 billion in 2001.

For the nine months ended Dec. 31, the company earned $142.2 million ($2.07) on $1.21 billion in revenue, compared with net income of $106.8 million ($1.57) on revenue of $1.16 billion in the same period in 2001.

* Columbia Bancorp, a Howard County banking company, reported a 70 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit as loan activity rose.

Columbia earned $3.5 million (48 cents per share) in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $2 million (28 cents) in the same period of 2001. The earnings include a gain on the sale of company assets, including the administrative office building, totaling $720,000 before taxes. Loans grew 10 percent during the year, to $664.8 million. The company said its loan growth came primarily from real estate, commercial mortgage and construction loans.

For the year, the company's net income rose 33 percent, to $10.9 million ($1.50), from $8.2 million ($1.13) in 2001. The firm, the parent company of Columbia Bank, ended the year with $982 million in assets, a 16 percent increase over 2001's assets of $849.6 million.