Updated April 24 at 4:45pm

Mortgage growth propels WashTrust to record year

A focus on residential mortgages and expansion into new markets propelled Washington Trust Bancorp Inc. to record profits in 2011. More

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FINANCIAL SERVICES

Mortgage growth propels WashTrust to record year

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A focus on residential mortgages and expansion into new markets propelled Washington Trust Bancorp Inc. to record profits in 2011.

The parent company of Westerly-based The Washington Trust Co. reported a full-year profit of $29.7 million, or $1.82 per diluted share, compared with $24.1 million, or $1.49 per diluted share, for 2010.

The bank reported a profit of $7.8 million for the fourth quarter, also a record, compared with $7.2 million in the 2010 fourth quarter and third-quarter net income of $7.6 million.

The bank reported earnings per diluted share of 47 cents for the period, compared to 44 cents in the year-earlier quarter and 46 cents in the third quarter.

Total loans in 2011 were up $152 million, with an increase of $98 million in the commercial portfolio and $55 million in residential loans, when compared to 2010. Residential mortgages have been one of the bank’s specialties.

“Two years ago we recognized that residential mortgage was going to be an opportunity. I think it’s no secret that the larger banks have experienced compliance-and-service quality issues in the business of residential mortgages,” Joseph J. MarcAurele, Washington Trust chairman, president and CEO, told Providence Business News.

That proved to be a wise strategy. Combined with an increased local effort, the company established two Massachusetts locations, the most recent success in Burlington, part of the Boston market. A new office in Glastonbury, Conn., is expected to open the door to the Hartford market. A new residential mortgage-origination office is scheduled to open later this year in Warwick. “We have an expertise in the [residential] mortgage business and we certainly would like to continue to expand into Massachusetts and Connecticut, at least,” he said.

“We also came across some good commercial opportunities. We’ve had a very active calling effort in [Massachusetts and Connecticut] and we came up with significant, high-quality investment real estate opportunities,” MarcAurele said. “A lot of things fell in place for us over the quarter. We were able to bring a substantial number of new commercial relationships to close.”

MarcAurele in a news release noted that the bank “surpassed $3 billion in assets for the first time in the corporation’s 211-year history, and saw growth along all business lines.”

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