Stamford-based Patriot Bank just had its first profitable quarter since 2019, as the bank saw first quarter net income of $854,000, or $0.22 basic and diluted earnings per share, compared to a net loss of $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2020.

The bank had not seen a profitable quarter since the third quarter of 2019, when it had $27,000 in net income. The bank ended both 2019 and 2020 with full-year losses.

Patriot Bank said in its first quarter earnings statement, which was released last week, that the bank had improved net interest margins, core deposit growth, lower operating expenses and a lower loan loss provision.

The bank also said it recognized a payroll tax credit in the first quarter of $843,000 under the Employee Retention Credit program of the CARES Act, which was partially offset by a lower loan balance, with loan payoffs outpacing new loan originations.

“The bank continues to make progress in the areas of income creation and expense management during challenging operational circumstances,” Patriot President and CEO Robert Russell said in the earnings statement. “Staff remain focused on service and process improvements to help Patriot become an efficient and high performing organization. We remain steadfast in our pursuit of efficiency and performance.”

Patriot Bank’s total assets increased to $886.2 million, up from $880.7 million at the end of 2020. Net loans decreased from $719.6 million on Dec. 31 to $666.3 million on March 31. Total deposits in the first quarter were $692.9 million compared to $685.7 million in the fourth quarter.

Patriot attributed the growth in deposits to stronger retail banking activity in the first quarter and a $9.4 million growth in the prepaid debit card business during the first quarter of 2021, though the bank did see a decline in brokered deposits.

The bank had acquired a portfolio of prepaid debit card deposits last summer.

“These balance sheet changes have significantly strengthened the bank’s capital ratios and at the same time improved its net interest margin,” the bank said. “These foundational changes position Patriot for continued growth in profitability in 2021 as net interest margins are expected to continue to improve and as business activity rebounds from the impact of the pandemic and returns to more normalized levels.”

Patriot Bank has provided COVID-19-related deferrals on approximately $232.7 million of loans during the pandemic, and a normal payments have resumed on a significant percentage of these loans, the bank said. At the end of the first quarter, the bank had $37.7 million in loans still receiving COVID-related deferrals.

No provision for loan losses was needed in the first quarter, the bank said.

Russell, who joined Patriot last summer, also pointed in the statement to recent leadership changes at the Bank.

“The leadership team has expanded with experienced banking professionals now added to our team to help us achieve our goals and strengthen the bank’s accountability culture,” Russell said. “We believe the changes and our culture have us on the right path of success for us, our customers and our communities.”