FBR Capital Markets (FBCM) narrowed its first-quarter loss by reducing costs, as investment-banking activity remains "clearly below trend." The investment adviser reported a loss of $1.9 million, or 3 cents a share, on revenue of $50.1 million for the three months ended March 31. For the year-ago first quarter, FBR reported a loss of $8.3 million, or 13 cents a share, on revenue of $44.2 million. The company earned $3.1 million, or 5 cents a share, on revenue of $75.3 million for the fourth quarter. "Investment banking in the first quarter was clearly below trend and well below our expected run rate for the full year," FBR President and Chief Executive Richard Hendrix said. "Despite the light revenue quarter, the company was able to significantly reduce its operating loss from a similarly weak first quarter of 2010 as a result of the meaningful cost reductions accomplished over the last year. The second quarter is off to a much stronger start and we anticipate 2011 to be a profitable year for the company." Noninterest expenses for the first quarter fell to $52.1 million from $68.8 million a year earlier and $72.6 million for the final three months of 2010. Noncompensation expenses declined during the quarter, as FBR found "meaningful reductions in occupancy costs, technology-related expenses and professional fees." FBR had fewer employees in the first quarter and lowered compensation and benefit expenses by 25%. The company now employs 465 people, down from 598 at March 31, 2010. Total assets fell to $409 million as of March 31 down from $431.5 million at Dec. 31. Write to Jason Philyaw.