First Midwest Bancorp Inc. of Itasca, Ill., said its second-quarter earnings dropped 8% from a year earlier, to $27 million.

Earnings per share fell 5%, to 56 cents, but beat the average of analysts' estimates by 8 cents, according to Thomson Reuters. Excluding a noncore transaction, the company earned 51 cents a share.

The $8.3 billion-asset First Midwest attributed its better-than-expected earnings to loan growth in targeted areas, particularly commercial and industrial, agricultural, and commercial real estate.

"Loans outstanding increased at a rate which had not been reached for more than seven years," First Midwest said. "Virtually every category of business lending was up."

Total loans rose 5.5%, from a year earlier, to $5.2 billion as of June 30.

The provision for loan losses more than tripled, to $5.7 million. Nonperforming assets, including those 90 days past due, rose 84%, to $70 million. The company said that increase was driven primarily by loans to Chicago-area home builders and developers.

First Midwest's shares rose 26.5% Wednesday, to close at $17.71.

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