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Astoria Financial's earnings take big leap

Astoria Financial Corp., the Lake Success company that owns Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association, reported second-quarter earnings of $15.5 million, more than five times its earnings of $2.7 million in the same period last year.

"The improvement is due, primarily, to lower credit costs," George Engelke Jr., the company's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement Wednesday. He noted that the increase came even though the bank's total assets shrank slightly to $19.7 billion, as the market for home mortgages remained soft.

The company also announced it will pay a dividend of 13 cents a share.

Despite the soft mortgage market, the company reduced its provision for bad loans on the hopes that the economy will improve and mortgage lending will rise again. At the end of the quarter, Astoria's bad loans represented $415.1 million, a slight decrease from the previous quarter. It was the first decrease in bad loans in more than a year.

Engelke said he is optimistic about the company's long-term prospects as the economy continues to improve.

Astoria has 85 branches on Long Island and in Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County.

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