Strong loan growth at BankUnited (BKU) helped the Miami Lakes, Fla., company post higher second-quarter income and beat analysts' expectations.

The $12.4 billion-asset company said Wednesday that its earnings rose 11% from a year earlier, to $48.9 million. Earnings per share of 48 cents topped the average analysts' estimate by four cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

In the first half of 2012, BankUnited earned $99.2 million, compared with a loss of $23.7 million a year earlier. The company recorded a special expense of $110.4 million in the first half of 2011 tied to its initial public offering.

For the second quarter and the first half of 2012, growth in new loans outpaced the resolution of covered loans, resulting in net growth in the loan book, BankUnited said. Loans grew 24% from the end of last year, to $5.1 billion. New loans, including $306 million in loans acquired from Herald National Bank in New York, totaled $2.9 billion, or more than 70% higher from Dec. 31. BankUnited completed its purchase of Herald National in February.

Net interest income rose 24% from a year earlier, to $145.8 million. Noninterest income fell roughly 59% from a year earlier, to $21.7 million, because of lower accretion of discount on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indemnification asset.

Noninterest expense fell more than 13% from a year earlier, to $83 million. BankUnited partially offset increased costs tied to employee compensation and benefits with lower expenses tied to declining levels of other real estate owned and foreclosure activity with.

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