Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC) in Green Bay, Wisc., reported a profit of $44 million in the first quarter, down 4.6% from the same period last year, as fee income fell and credit costs increased.

Earnings per share of 27 cents per share were two cents ahead of analysts' consensus estimates.

The $24.8 billion-asset company's net interest income totaled $165 million, up 4.6% from a year earlier. The net interest income gains, however, was offset by a $5 million provision for loan losses. The provision was up 51.5% from a year earlier and up 117.4% from the fourth quarter.

The company's average loans grew 3% from the fourth quarter to $16.2 billion, with commercial loans growing 4% and accounting for the majority of the loan growth.

Noninterest income was $74 million in the quarter, down 10% from a year earlier, primarily due to a 64% decline in mortgage banking revenue.

Improvements in brokerage, bank-owned life insurance income and investment securities gains tempered the sharp decline in mortgage activity.

Expenses totaled $167.7 million, down 6.4% from the last quarter and flat from a year earlier. The company's efficiency ratio was 68.86%, compared to 72.59% in the fourth quarter.

"In this environment, we remain focused on our strategies to enhance efficiency and manage expenses," Flynn said in a press release.

Flynn also said in the press release that the company continues to look for ways to deploy capital. Flynn has repeatedly said he is looking for an in-market acquisition that would generate cost savings and lower overall expenses.


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