Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., showed strong consumer loan growth in the second quarter but fell slightly short of analysts' quarterly estimates as its margins declined.

The $137 billion-asset company earned $190 million in the quarter, down 39% from a year earlier, when its profits were boosted by the sale of its Chicago retail operations. Per-share profits of 35 cents were a penny off the average estimates of Bloomberg analysts.

However, excluding the sale of the Chicago branches and various charges tied to its ongoing separation from former parent company Royal Bank of Scotland, quarterly profits rose 5% and earnings per share of 40 cents were two cents higher than analysts' forecasts.

Citizens' net interest income rose 1% from a year earlier, to $840 million, despite a 15-basis-point decline in net interest margin, to 2.72%.

Consumer loans grew 7%, to $50.7 billion, with strong growth in auto and student lending, which have been a focus of Citizens over the past year. Commercial loans grew 10%, to $44.6 billion. Citizens increased its provision for credit losses by 57%, to $77 billion.

Citizens' noninterest income fell 44%, to $360 million, but that decline factors in the $280 million gain from the Chicago branch sale last year. Excluding that transaction, noninterest income was up 2%, due to stronger mortgage-banking and capital markets revenue.

Noninterest expense fell 4%, excluding the impact of the Chicago deal, mostly due to lower compensation costs.

Citizens' former parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland, has been gradually divesting its stake in the company through a series of stock sales. The most recent was in April, when Citizens repurchased about 10.5 million shares from RBS, reducing the British bank's stake to about 41%.

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