Bank Mutual (BKMU) in Brown Deer, Wis., reported higher earnings due mostly to improved credit quality.

The $2.4 billion-asset company's fourth-quarter earnings rose 17% from a year earlier, to $2.7 million. Earnings per share of 6 cents met the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Net interest income rose 7% from a year earlier, to $17.2 million. The net interest margin expanded 38 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.24%.

Noninterest income fell 33% from a year earlier, to $5.5 million. Noninterest expenses fell 7% from a year earlier, to $17.8 million.

The loan-loss provision fell 44% from a year earlier, to $1.2 million. Nonperforming assets fell 50% from a year earlier, to $19.7 million.

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