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Strong commercial and consumer loan performance helped Letchworth Independent Bancshares Corp. achieve a record income level for 1998, officials said Monday.

The company, parent of the Bank of Castile, had net income of $3.31 million for 1998, and that represented a 5.69 percent increase over the 1997 year-end figure, said James N. Fulmer, president and chief executive officer. Net income for the three months ended Dec. 31, was $873,247, an 8.8 percent increase over the same period in 1997.

The company's improved earnings reflected the strong performance of the Bank of Castile's loan portfolio, Fulmer said.

"Our consumer loan volume for the bank increased a dramatic 69 percent in the year. This included the new program of indirect lending for vehicles, which booked $9.6 million in loans during its first year of operation.

The bank's commercial lending portfolio increased 12.5 percent from year-end 1997, Fulmer said.

The company's total assets as of Dec. 31 increased 8.4 percent from year-end 1997, to $281.6 million. The company's return on average assets for the year was 1.25 percent, and its return on average equity was 11.45 percent.

The company's directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of 9 cents per share, payable on March 1 to shareholders of record on Feb. 1. The dividend represents a 12.5 percent increase over the amount paid in the prior quarter.

The Bank of Castile operates 11 banking offices in Wyoming, Livingston and Genesee counties.

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