Wintrust Financial in Rosemont, Ill., in the first quarter reaped the benefits of several M&A deals that it completed last year.

The $23.5 billion-asset bank reported a profit of $49.1 million, up 26% from a year earlier. Adjusted earnings per share of 82 cents beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 9 cents.

Wintrust bought three banks in July: the $343 million-asset Community Financial Shares, the $488 million-asset Suburban Illinois Bancorp and the $106 million-asset North Bank. Meanwhile, it completed its acquisition of the $124 million-asset Generations Bancorp on the last day of the quarter, March 31.

Net interest income after the provision for credit losses jumped 12% to $163.5 million. The net interest margin shrunk by 11 basis points, but total loans grew 16% to $17.6 billion.

Noninterest income rose 7% to $68.8 million. Declines in mortgage banking revenue and fees from covered call options were offset by a number of factors including increased operating lease income, higher service charges on deposits and a $4.3 million gain from an extinguishment of debt.

Noninterest expense grew 4% to $153.7 million, mainly on increased costs for salaries and employee benefits tied to the addition of staff members from acquisitions. Yet Wintrust's efficiency ratio improved by 394 basis points to 63.96%.

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