Comerica (CMA) in Dallas reported an uptick in earnings as the company benefited from lower operating costs and improved credit quality.

The company earned $139 million in the first quarter, up 4% from the same period a year ago. Earnings per share of 73 cents fell a penny shy of the estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Comerica's net interest income was $410 million, a 1% decline from the first quarter of 2013. The decrease was driven in part by a 3% decline in revenue from loan interest and fees, despite strong growth in commercial loans. Comerica's net interest margin fell 11 basis points, to 2.77%.

Noninterest income slipped 2%, to $208 million, as income from commercial lending fees fell. A decrease in deferred compensation plan asset returns also contributed to the decline.

Lower operating costs helped offset the falloff in revenue. Comerica's noninterest expenses declined 2%, to $406 million, because of lower expenses from employee salaries and benefits.

As Comerica's credit quality continued to stabilize, the company chopped its loan-loss provision to $9 million — a 43% decrease from the same period a year ago.

The quarter's results are a substantial improvement from the previous period for the $65.7-billion asset Comerica. In January, Comerica was forced to revise its fourth-quarter earnings downward by 20%, to $117 million, after a Montana jury ordered it to pay $52 million in damages to an office supply company.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.