Improved asset quality helped Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. return to the black in 2011 despite declines in revenue.

The $6 billion-asset company reported on Thursday that a fourth-quarter profit of $13.1 million, compared with a loss of almost $10 million a year earlier. It also said that 2011 profit totaled $39.1 million, compared to an $11 million loss in 2010.

Nonperforming loans fell for the third straight quarter, declining 35% from a year earlier, to $68.1 million. The company recorded a $2.5 million credit to its loan-loss provision in the fourth quarter, compared to a $4.5 million reserve build a year earlier.

The company's net interest income fell almost 2% from a year earlier, to $44.1 million. The company's investment management and trust fees fell 5% from a year earlier, to $14.8 million.

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