Loan growth helped power BankUnited (BKU) in Miami Lakes, Fla., to a 9% rise in quarterly earnings.

The $14.3 billion-asset company earned $54.3 million in the third quarter, up from $49.6 million in the third quarter of 2012, it announced Tuesday. Per-share earnings were 52 cents, beating the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 6 cents.

Net interest income rose 18%, to $164.1 million, as its net interest margin widened by 23 basis points, to 5.70%. BankUnited attributed the increase in net interest margin mainly to an increase in the yield on loans covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and to an increase in the proportion of loans to other types of assets the banks held. Its average loan balance for the quarter rose 41%, to $7.2 billion.

Noninterest income fell to $1.3 million from $25.7 million, as the bank recorded a $12.4 million charge related to the amortization of its FDIC indemnification asset, compared to a $3.4 million gain from accretion of the same asset in the third quarter of 2012. BankUnited also recorded a 40% rise in income from the resolution of assets covered by the FDIC, to $24.6 million.

BankUnited's provision for loan losses fell to $2.6 million from $6.4 million, and it charged off $2 million worth of loans, up from $1.9 million.

BankUnited's noninterest expense rose 9%, to $84.3 million, as compensation and occupancy costs rose. These cost increases were offset by declining expenses related to the bank's real estate holdings.

BankUnited moved into the New York City market this year, and is currently expanding and refurbishing its Florida branch network, it said. It now has 103 locations in the two states.

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