A big payment to a former executive and a decline in fee income hurt earnings at Brookline Bancorp (BRKL) in Boston last quarter.

The bank reported a profit of $7.7 million in the fourth quarter, a 35.3% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2012.

With earnings per share of 11 cents, the $5.3 billion-asset company missed estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by three cents.

Brookline took a $900,000 charge in compensation-related expenses upon the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Julie Gerschick at the end of 2013. The charge contributed to its 8.3% increase in noninterest expense, to $31.3 million.

Noninterest income was $3.9 million, 40% less than a year earlier, as Brookline had no gains on sales of loans and leases ; it reported $1.9 million of such gains in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net interest income was $43.8 million, a decrease of 1.8% from the fourth quarter of 2012. Its return on average assets fell 35 basis points to 0.58%.

Net interest margin was 3.54%, a decrease of 25 basis points. The provision for loan-and-lease losses jumped to $3.8 million, a 25.2% increase. Total net chargeoffs were $1.7 million, an increase from $826 thousand.

"We have experienced uneven results as we conclude our transition to a commercial bank and remain challenged by the historically low interest rate environment," Brookline Chief Executive Paul Perrault said in a press release Wednesday. "With much of the transition work behind us, our strong balance sheet, expanding branch network, and new business initiatives position us well for 2014."

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