Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) in Little Rock, Ark., reported higher quarterly earnings because of higher mortgage income.

The $4 billion-asset company's first-quarter earnings rose 11% from a year earlier, to $20 million, or 56 cents a share.

Net interest income rose less than 1% from a year earlier, to $44 million. Net interest margin contracted by 15 basis points from the first quarter of 2012, to 5.83%. The loan-loss provision fell 11% from a year earlier, to $2.7 million.

Noninterest income rose 18% from a year earlier, to $16.4 million, because of a 58% increase in mortgage-lending income. The company also reported higher income from service charges, trusts and asset sales.

"While our results for the quarter, including loan and lease growth, reflect some of the headwinds typically encountered during the first quarter, our excellent net interest margin, superb asset quality, near-record mortgage lending income and good control of non-interest expenses provide a great start for 2013," George Gleason, the company's chairman and chief executive, said in a press release.

Bank of the Ozarks agreed in January to buy the First National Bank of Shelby in Shelby, N.C. for $68 million in cash and stock.

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