Profits soared at Bank of the Ozarks in Little Rock, Ark., thanks primarily to its expanding loan portfolio.

The $11.4 billion-asset company reported first-quarter net income of $51.7 million, up nearly 30% from a year earlier. But its adjusted earnings per share of 56 cents beat analysts' estimates by less than a penny, according to Bloomberg. And its stock closed Tuesday at $41.26, down 1.6%.

Total loans and leases increased 46% to $9.27 billion. Though margins tightened, the company's bigger portfolio produced a 32% increase in net interest income to $112.5 million.

Acquisitions of Bank of Carolinas in Mocksville, N.C., and Intervest National Bank in New York last year contributed to the loan growth.

Cost cuts also helped the bottom line. Noninterest expenses fell 5%, to $47.7 million.

The higher net interest income and lower expenses helped offset a 31% drop in fee income, to $19.9 million. Noninterest income fell because of lower mortgage lending income, the absence of certain life-insurance-related income and gains on investment securities that had boosted the year-earlier quarter, and other factors; the blow was cushioned by a 15% increase in service charges on deposit accounts tied to the company's 43% increase in deposits to $9.6 billion.

Meanwhile, Bank of the Ozarks has other M&A deals pending. It agreed last fall to buy C1 Financial in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Community & Southern Holdings in Atlanta.

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