CIT Group’s first-quarter profit improved as the Livingston, N.J., company benefited from CEO Ellen Alemany’s ongoing effort to shed businesses and simplify the balance sheet.

Net income at the $63 billion-asset company rose 23% to $179.9 million from a year earlier. Its earnings per share of 88 cents came in 15 cents above the average estimate of analysts compiled by FactSet Research Systems.

The results included $101.7 million from discontinued operations, which contributed 55 cents to earnings per share. The discontinued operations items included $34 million in costs to extinguish secured debt; and $13 million from a gain on CIT’s sale of its 30% stake in TC-CIT Aviation, a commercial aircraft leasing joint venture.

Discontinued operations also included a $69 million benefit from suspended depreciation benefits from its Commercial Air business. On April 4 CIT sold its Commercial Air business to Avolon Holdings for $10.4 billion.

“We remain committed to maintaining a strong balance sheet while making further progress on our strategic priorities, including building on our strengths in the commercial and consumer banking franchises,” said CEO Chief Executive Alemany.

“We remain committed to maintaining a strong balance sheet while making further progress on our strategic priorities, including building on our strengths in the commercial and consumer banking franchises,” Alemany said in a news release.

Net interest revenue rose 22% to $242.9 million as the loan-loss provision was nearly halved to about $50 million. Total loans fell 4% to $29 billion.

Noninterest income fell 7% to $79.1 million on lower fee revenue and due to losses on derivatives and foreign currency exchange.

Noninterest expenses declined 5% to $312 million on lower salaries and benefits and other cost-cutting projects.

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Andy Peters

Andy Peters

Andy Peters writes about regional banks, consumer finance and debt collections for American Banker.