Wintrust Financial (WTFC) in Rosemont, Ill., posted higher earnings after pursuing acquisitions.

The $17.5 billion-asset company's earnings rose 57% from a year earlier, to $30.1 million. Earnings per share of 61 cents topped the average analysts' estimate by 2 cents, according to Bloomberg.

The company has been aggressively looking to buy smaller banks around Chicago area. Its purchase of Hyde Park Bank & Trust, which closed in the fourth quarter, added about $362 million in assets.

Net interest income rose 7% from a year earlier, to $133 million, as deposit costs fell. The loan-loss provision rose 4% from a year earlier, to $19.5 million. Its net interest margin narrowed by 5 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.4%.

Noninterest income jumped 31% from the fourth quarter of 2011, to $65.2 million, because of higher mortgage-banking fees.

"Strategic acquisitions . . . and organic branch growth will continue to be an important piece of our long-term strategy," Edward Wehmer, Wintrust's president and chief executive, said in a press release. "We will continue to maintain discipline with regards to acquisition opportunities."

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