First-quarter profits at People’s United Financial climbed 52% over the same period last year to $107.9 million, as two acquisition the Bridgeport, Conn., company made last year gave big boosts to interest and fee income.

Its earnings per share of 30 cents met the mean estimate of analysts polled by FactSet Research Systems.

Interest income at the $44.1 billion-asset People's increased 19% year over year to $295.8 million, thanks largely to rising interest rates and and an 8% increase in total loans to $32 billion. The company’s total commercial portfolio increased 10% to $23.3 billion in the first quarter, and its retail portfolio increased 2% to $8.8 billion. Its net interest margin expanded 23 basis points to 3.05%.

CEO Jack Barnes said that People's United remains on pace to hit its loan-growth targets for 2018.

The year-over-year loan growth was driven primarily by its 2017 acquisitions of Suffolk Bancorp in Riverhead, N.Y., and Leaf Commercial Capital, a Philadelphia-based equipment finance firm.

Deposits increased 8% to $32.9 billion.

Noninterest income increased 7% to $90.4 million. Commercial banking lending fees grew 27% to $10.4 million in the first quarter, investment management fees grew 10% to $17.7 million. Noninterest expenses grew 7% to $243.5 million.

The company did note that loan balances have declined slightly since the end of 2017, but President and CEO Jack Barnes said in a news release Thursday that he still expects them to increase by 4% to 6% this year.

"Given our diversified business mix and strong commercial loan pipelines at quarter-end, we remain confident the company can achieve the annual growth goal provided in January," Barnes said.

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