Comerica (CMA) beat fourth-quarter profit estimates, as its fee revenue increased and expenses from its 2011 acquisition of Sterling Bancshares diminished.

The Dallas bank said Wednesday that it had earned $130 million, or 68 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 35% increase from the prior-year period. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected earnings of 65 cents per share. 

The company's interest income dipped to $424 million, a 4.5% decrease from a year earlier, as it bulked up its concentration in commercial loans. Those loans increased by $762 million, or 3%, while its commercial real estate portfolio contracted by $241 million, or 2%.

Despite the decline in interest income, strong non-interest income and lower costs pushed Comerica's profits up. Noninterest income rose 12%, to $204 million, driven in part by increased fees on commercial loans and cards. Pretax restructuring expenses related to the Sterling acquisition were $2 million for the quarter, compared to $37 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The bank recorded $37 million in charge-offs in the fourth quarter, a 38% decrease from a year earlier. Provisions for credit losses decreased 11%, to $16 million, compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. 

Shares of the $65 billion-asset company had risen about 3.7%, to $33.04, by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

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