Univest (UVSP) in Souderton, Pa., reported lower quarterly earnings because of higher expenses.

The $2.3 billion-asset company's earnings fell 2% from a year earlier, to $5.1 million.

Net interest income fell 1% from a year earlier, to $18.2 million. The net interest margin compressed 16 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2011, to 3.8%.

Noninterest income rose 16% from a year earlier, to $10.4 million, because of mortgage refinancing and the sale of a former operations building. Noninterest expense rose 12% from a year earlier, to $19.7 million, because of higher personnel costs.

Univest recorded an efficiency ratio of 65.93% in the fourth quarter, compared with 60.87% a year earlier.

Total loans increased 7% from a year earlier, to $1.5 billion. The loan-loss provision fell 23% from a year earlier, to $2.4 million.

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