Commerce Bancshares in Kansas City, Mo., reported higher quarterly profit by keeping expenses flat and chargeoffs to a minimum.

The $25 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that its third-quarter profit rose 9% from a year earlier, to $74.6 million.

“Our earnings remained strong this quarter driven by solid expense control and continued low credit losses,” Chairman and CEO David Kemper said in the release. “Excluding the effects of our inflation bonds, our net interest margin continued to expand this quarter from increased rates on our loan portfolio and stable deposit costs.”

David Kemper, Chairman and CEO of Commerce Bancshares.
Expense control and increased construction lending were quarterly highlights at Commerce Bancshares, led by CEO David Kemper.

Commerce Bancshares also reported a 12% increase in trust fee income tied to its wealth management business. Net chargeoffs fell slightly from the second quarter, to $10.7 million, because of lower credit card losses and increased recoveries in the commercial loan portfolio. Auto loan chargeoffs rose.

Net interest income increased 7% from a year earlier to $182.6 million. Total loans increased 4% to $13.7 billion. Construction lending increased 15%; business lending edged up 1.3%.

Total deposits increased 1.4% to $20.4 billion.

The net interest margin expanded by 10 basis points to 3.18%.

Noninterest income increased by 2.4% to $122.2 million. Income from trust fees, consumer brokerage services, loan fees and deposit account fees rose, offsetting declines in card transaction and capital markets fees.

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