Centura Banks Inc. earned $16.5 million in the second quarter, 14% more than a year earlier.

The Rocky Mount, N.C., company earned 71 cents per share, 1 cent more than consensus estimates.

Centura, which has $5.6 billion of assets, reported the results last week. It attributed its improved performance to continued strong growth in noninterest income, which rose 44% to $19.8 million on increased commissions from brokerage and insurance subsidiaries as well as mortgage revenues.

The company returned 1.19% on assets and 16.43% on equity. The net interest margin improved 10 basis points from the first quarter, to 4.60%, but was down from 4.84% in the year-earlier quarter. Noninterest expense, up 20% to $49.8 million, remained high because of technology spending.

"We are pleased with the progress we are making, especially in securities and insurance sales," said chairman and CEO Robert R. Mauldin. "The investments we have been making are paying off, our asset quality remains very good, and our net interest margin is improving."

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