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Fulton Financial looks toward east for Maryland expansion

July 27, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

Fulton Financial Corp., parent company of Hagerstown Trust Co., unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday under which Hagerstown Trust could expand its reach through Frederick County, Md., to connect with the eastern balance of the state.

R. Scott Smith Jr., president and chief operating officer of the Lancaster, Pa.-based financial holding company, spoke about Fulton's expansion plans as part of a presentation on the company's second-quarter earnings. His comments, at the Honor Roll and Sixth Annual Community Bank Investor Conference hosted by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, were made available through a Webcast hosted by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods' Web site.

Fulton's possible future expansion map also identified large portions of North Carolina, Virginia and scattered sections of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as areas for future expansion.

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"We believe these growth areas would respond well to our business model and to our personal style of relationship banking," Smith said in the presentation. "In general, we would like to expand into markets we already serve and into contiguous markets as well."

Hagerstown Trust has a loan production office in Frederick, and bank President Jack Castle said Hagerstown Trust has received initial approval for a branch in Frederick to open in the spring of 2006. With a foothold in Frederick County, Castle said the bank would look to expand eastward through either new construction or with the aid of future Fulton bank acquisitions.

For the second quarter, Fulton's income increased 9.8 percent, from $37.9 million in the second quarter of 2004 to $41.6 million. Its diluted net income per share increased to 27 cents, up from 25 cents for the same period last year. The company reported $83.1 million in net income as of June 30, a 12.8 percent increase from the first six months of 2004.

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