First Financial Northwest (FFNW) in Renton, Wash., reported higher quarterly earnings after settling a lawsuit with an activist investor.

Net income at $943 million-asset company rose 63% from a year earlier, to $1.5 million, or 9 cents a share. Net interest income and noninterest income fell in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

Noninterest expense fell by 15% from a year earlier, to $5.6 million. First Financial did not record a loan-loss provision in the fourth quarter.

Last month, the company reached a settlement with an activist investor. Stilwell Group had tried to invalidate the results of board elections where Victor Karpiak, First Financial's chairman, defeated the investor’s nominee on a technicality. Stilwell, which had pressured First Financial to cut costs and address credit quality, received a board seat as part of the settlement.

First Financial, which is operating under a memorandum of understanding with regulators, has been trying to reduce its exposure to single-family mortgages and construction loans. The company said it originated more multifamily and commercial real estate loans during the fourth quarter as part of its plan to reduce loan exposure to other types of loans.

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