Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., reported a 26% increase in quarterly profit thanks to robust lending and lower costs for bad loans.

The $137 billion-asset company earned $209 million in the first quarter, it reported Wednesday. Per-share earnings of 38 cents beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 4 cents.

Net interest income rose 3%, to $836 million, as 9% loan growth, to $94.5 billion, outweighed a declining loan yield. Citizens' net interest margin tightened by 12 basis points, to 2.77%. Its provision for credit losses declined by 52%, to $58 million.

Noninterest income declined by 3%, to $347 million, as service charges, card fees and trust and investment services all ticked down. Noninterest expenses were flat, at $810 million.

Citizens completed its second stock offering in the first quarter, as it splits off from its former parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland. The company named Eric Aboaf its chief financial officer and Don McCree its vice chairman and head of commercial banking during the quarter.

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