First Niagara Financial Group Inc. on Thursday reported third-quarter earnings that were weighed down by more than $16 million in costs from closing former Harleysville National Corp. branches in Pennsylvania.

Net income at the the Buffalo, N.Y., company rose 25% from a year earlier, to $56.9 million, or 19 cents a share on a fully reported basis. Analysts had expected 17 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Excluding $16.7 million in merger-related items, primarily tied to severance and other costs from closing 14 Harleysville branches, First Niagara had net income of $73.6 million, or 25 cents a share. On that basis, analysts had expected 26 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

First Niagara in April 2010 bought the $5.2 billion-asset Harleysville, the holding company of Harleysville National Bank and East Penn Bank, for $237 million.

This marks the second-straight quarter that First Niagara's earnings took a hit from merger-related expenses. Its second-quarter net income fell 32.3% from a year earlier, to $13.6 million, on costs of about $88.5 million tied to its April 2011 purchase of NewAlliance Bancshares of New Haven, Conn.

For this year's third-quarter results, First Niagara's loan-loss provision rose 25.9% from a year earlier, to $13.8 million. While the total exceeded net chargeoffs, First Niagara said in a press release that the provision was "consistent with the growth and changing mix of its loan portfolio."

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