American Residential Investment Trust Inc., San Diego, has reported record earnings of $29.0 million ($3.57 per share) for 2003, compared with $1.6 million ($0.20 per share) a year earlier.However, as previously announced, the company did take a loss in the fourth quarter of $406,000 ($0.05 per share) compared with profits of $4.7 million (0.59 per share) for the same period in 2002. John M. Robbins Jr., chief executive of ARIT and its subsidiary American Mortgage Network (AmNet), explained "Loan volume did decline in the fourth quarter and margins on that volume were compressed. During the second and third quarter, we aggressively entered new markets and increased staff to handle volume and to capitalize on this unprecedented market opportunity. However, when fourth quarter activity abruptly slowed, the staffing levels we put in place to respond to second and third quarter volumes were no longer necessary, so we have reduced headcount in most branches and eliminated overtime and temporary labor costs. Our ongoing challenge will be to balance future growth opportunities with the reality of today's mortgage market. Consequently, as we enter new markets and add to our sales force, operations in existing branches will continue to be evaluated and rightsized to align infrastructure costs with volume levels."

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