Sterling Financial (STSA) in Spokane, Wash., fell short of fourth-quarter earnings expectations because of a hefty charge for early repayment of debt.

The $9.2 billion-asset company reported that its earnings rose 41%, to $20.9 million, compared with the fourth quarter of 2011. But per-share earnings of 33 cents were 20 cents below the expectations of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

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