Advanta Corp. said Thursday it swung to a loss in the first quarter as credit card chargeoffs spiraled upward, but the company reiterated that it can prevent an early amortization of its master trust.

The Spring House, Pa., company, which specializes in small-business cards, posted a loss of $75.9 million, or $1.87 a share, versus a profit of $18.4 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier.

The annual chargeoff rate on managed receivables surged 387 basis points from the fourth quarter and nearly 1,000 basis points from a year earlier, to 15.86%.

Analysts had predicted in January that such a rise could force Advanta into early amortization and even bankruptcy. Dennis Alter, its chief executive, acknowledged on a conference call with investors Thursday that the master trust had trapped $9.8 million of cash in February and March. (Trapping is a less-extreme alternative to early amortization.)

Advanta is continuing to take steps to prevent early amortization, Alter said, though he reiterated it would not hobble his company.

Advanta has continued to reduce the number of cards it issues and the amount it lends on those cards. Account originations fell 94% from a year earlier, to 3,961, and the total number of accounts fell 25%, to 995,327. Advanta reduced its managed receivables by 25%, to $4.7 billion.

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