BankUnited in Miami Lakes, Fla., reported a drop in quarterly profits, as low yields weighed down the company's growing loan book and it faced some growth-related costs.
The $19.2 billion-asset company earned $46.8 million in the fourth quarter, or 11% less than a year earlier. Earnings per share were 45 cents, beating a Bloomberg analyst poll by a penny.
A combination of factors led to the decline, including tighter margins, a larger provision for loan losses and higher noninterest costs.
Net interest income edged up 4%, to $171.5 million, despite a surge in lending. Total loans rose 37%, to $12.4 billion.
BankUnited has ramped up its commercial lending business in the past year. Commercial real estate loans accounted for 40% of the company's total loans in the fourth quarter, compared to 34.4% a year earlier. Its New York office generated the most new loans in the fourth quarter, followed by its Florida franchise and national platforms.
However, the net interest margin narrowed by 98 basis points, to 4.26%, mostly from lower interest rates.
Meanwhile, the company increased its provision for bad loans on its growing portfolio by 64%, to $20.5 million.
A drop in fee-based income also contributed to the earnings decline. Noninterest income slid 9%, to $19 million, as the bank reported a bigger net loss from its Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indemnification asset after covered loans performed better.
Operating expenses increased 9%, to $108.5 million. The company attributed the change to higher salary costs, as well as occupancy charges associated with its expansion in New York.