First Midwest Bank in Itasca, Ill., increased profits in the first quarter thanks to higher lending income, but fell short of heightened expectations set after two major acquisitions last year.

The $9.5 billion-asset bank bought the Chicago-area branches of Puerto Rico's Popular Bank in August, and acquired equipment lease and financing company National Machine Tool Financial in September.

First Midwest's net income rose 12.4% from a year earlier, to $19.9 million in the first quarter. Net interest income rose 20.6% to $76.8 million thanks to a corresponding 20.6% jump in loan interest earned.

The bank's noninterest income grew by about 14%, to $31.1 million, thanks to a $3.6 million increase in service charges, commissions, and fees. However noninterest expense also grew roughly 14%, to $72.7 million, driven primarily by a $5.1 million jump in employee salaries and benefits.

First Midwest's earnings per share were 26 cents, a penny below the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

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