Commercial loan growth fueled a 20% rise in fourth-quarter profit at EverBank Financial in Jacksonville, Fla., outweighing a sharp drop in fee income.

Net income at the $27 billion-asset company rose 20% from a year earlier to $42.6 million. Total revenue rose 5% to $232.9 million.

Total loans and leases held for investment rose 25% to $22.1 billion, as EverBank generated more business and commercial real estate loans and equipment-financing receivables. Business and CRE loan originations rose 59% to $769 million.

Fed by the loan growth, net interest income after the loan-loss provision rose 19% to $164.9 million. The average yield on all interest-earning assets narrowed to 3.9%, and the net interest margin narrowed to 2.9%.

Fee income fell 23% to $57.9 million. A 28% decline in gains on the sale of loans, to $24.7 million, contributed to the fee-income slide.

Noninterest expense rose 0.1% to $152.9 million on higher salaries and employee benefits. The efficiency ratio improved to 66% from 69% in the year-earlier period.

The quarter contained several one-time items, including $3.6 million in restructuring costs; a $3 million credit on regulatory expenses; and an $89,000 recovery on mortgage servicing rights.

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