BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C., posted higher quarterly profit that relied heavily on cost control.

The $187 billion-asset company reported that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 4% from a year earlier, to $557 million, or 76 cents a share. Revenue, however, fell slightly, to $2.4 billion.

"These results were driven by very good expense control and strong performances from our mortgage banking, insurance and investment banking and brokerage businesses," Kelly King, BB&T's chairman and chief executive, said in a press release Thursday.

Expense management played a big role in the results. Noninterest expense fell 3%, to $1.4 billion, as personnel expenses were flat after the company cut about 600 full-time employees during the quarter. BB&T did have $11 million in merger-related expenses and a $27 million charge tied to a review of its mortgage lending processes.

Net interest income fell 2%, to $1.3 billion. Total loans rose 3.6%, to $121 billion, but the net interest margin compressed by 20 basis points, to 3.36%.

Noninterest income rose about 2%, to $1 billion, including higher insurance and mortgage banking income.

BB&T's loan-loss provision rose 38%, to $83 million. Net chargeoffs fell 18%, to $116 million, and nonperforming assets declined 33%, to $782 million.

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