Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., posted higher quarterly profits in its first full quarter since going public.

The $133 billion-asset company earned $197 million in the fourth quarter, an increase of 30% from a year earlier. Earnings per share were 36 cents, or three cents higher than an estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

The quarterly results follow the company's $3 billion initial public offering in September. The offering was an initial step toward independence from its parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland. Citizens is expected to be fully independent by 2016.

A larger lending portfolio drove the fourth-quarter profits. Total loans grew 8%, to $93.7 billion, boosted by an uptick in commercial lending.

Net interest income rose 8%, to $840 million. The net interest margin narrowed 3 basis points, to 2.8%.

Meanwhile, fee-based income dropped 11%, to $339 million, mainly because of lower securities gains and mortgage banking revenue.

Operating expenses edged up about 1%, to $824 million.

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