Earnings at Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC) fell slightly in the second quarter as growth in commercial lending failed to offset a sharp decline in income from mortgage banking.

The Green Bay, Wis., company said late Thursday that it earned $44 million in the quarter that ended June 30, down 3.2% from the same period in 2013. Earnings per share of 28 cents were unchanged from the year-earlier period and were in line with consensus analysts' estimates.

Associated said that commercial loans — including commercial real estate loans — climbed 9% year over year, to $10.4 billion and that total loans increased 6%, to $16.6 billion. Residential mortgage balances also increased during the quarter, but overall mortgage banking revenue fell 72% year over year, to $5.4 million, as refinancing activity slowed considerably.

Excluding fees from mortgage banking, the company reported strong gains in fee income, particularly on commissions from brokerage activity and insurance sales. Overall, core fee revenue increased 10% year over year, to $60.2 million.

Expenses held steady at $168 million during the quarter. In a news release, Associated President and Chief Executive Philip B. Flynn said that the company "remains focused on expense management and operational efficiency." He added that Associated, which recently announced plans to acquire $100 million in credit card receivables from U.S. Bancorp (USB), will continue to be "opportunistic in the ways we deploy capital."

Associated has $25.7 billion of assets and more than 200 branches in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

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