Third-quarter profits rose at Cullen/Frost Bankers in San Antonio, driven by a lower provision for problem loans.

The $28 billion-asset company earned $80 million, or 6% more than a year earlier. Earnings per share were $1.24, beating an estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 8 cents.

"Overall improved conditions, and the positive steps we have taken, led to increased profitability," Chairman and Chief Executive Phil Green said in a news release Wednesday, alluding to the recent crash in the oil and gas markets. "We also continue to see positive results of our approach to working with customers, which served us well through the challenges of the past several months."

Net interest income rose 4%, to $195 million. Loans were mostly flat, growing less than 1%, to about $11.5 billion. However, the net interest margin expanded 5 basis points to 3.53%.

The company slashed its provision for loan losses by 25% to $5 million. Still, nonperforming assets jumped 73%, to $101 million.

Noninterest income dipped 3% to $82 million, due in part to lower service charges and insurance commissions.

Noninterest expenses climbed 3% to $181 million from higher occupancy charges and employee benefits.

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.