Restructuring costs and savings from expense control continued to have a major impact on fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as many medium- sized bank companies announced their results.

But for $23 billion-asset First of America Bank Corp., improved earnings may not be enough to preserve its independence, said one analyst.

"An organization that falls a little bit below its peer group tends to be highlighted in this takeover environment," said Michael Moran, an analyst at Roney & Co., Detroit.

Kalamazoo, Mich.-based First of America reported a 26% increase in fourth-quarter net income, to $66 million, and a 7% rise in full-year earnings, to $237 million.

Quarterly results were bolstered by a $14 million pretax gain from the sale of 11 branches. However, that boost was partly offset by a $3.9 million charge for severance pay as part of a restructuring announced in August 1994. First of America completed its restructuring at the end of 1995 and took $13.2 million in charges in 1995 and $3.9 million in 1994.

Analysts noted that First of America had decent income growth for the year despite the restructuring costs. Return on assets for the full year was 1%, up from 0.98% in 1994. That compares with about a dozen Michigan bank companies that have been reporting ROAs of 1.20% to 1.40%, Mr. Moran said.

Meanwhile, results at another midwestern bank, Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp., strengthened it against any possible takeover.

Northern Trust reported record quarterly earnings of $59.5 million, up 48% from the fourth quarter of 1994, and record full-year earnings of $220 million, up 21%.

The $20 billion-asset banking company said its revenues had grown in all major business lines. Trust fees, Northern's largest single revenue component, reached a record $134 million, up 17% from 1994. Trust assets under management increased 26%, to $104 billion, while total trust assets were $614 billion at Dec. 31, up 23% from the previous year.

Northern Trust also benefited from a cost-cutting program announced in early 1995 that will take $50 million out of expenses during the next three years.

"They benefited from a double whammy," said analyst James Schutz of Chicago Corp. "They slowed down expenses and had healthy growth in trust business."

In the western United States, First Security Corp. of Salt Lake City took a $44 million pretax charge ($28 million after taxes) in the fourth quarter resulting from a major restructuring unveiled last month. Fighting to remain independent, First Security, a $13 billion-asset company, plans to eliminate 1,577 jobs as part of the program, which is designed to save $51.4 million in 1996.

As a result of the charge, First Security reported fourth-quarter net income of $8.8 million, down 75% from the same period of 1994, and full- year income of $120 million, down 14.4%.

Quarterly earnings rose 3% at Standard Federal Bancorp., Troy, Mich., to $31 million. Full-year income was up only $500,000, to $119.5 million. The company, a large mortgage lender, blamed the lack of strong earnings growth on market and interest rate factors affecting the mortgage business.

Although interest income was down for both the quarter and year, Standard Federal, a $13.3 billion-asset thrift company, posted a $13 million gain in the fourth quarter from the sale of securitized mortgages and other loans.

Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp. reported record quarterly income of $25.5 million, up 52% from the same period of 1994. However, full-year income fell 14%, to $61 million, because the $7.2 billion-asset thrift company took a $33 million charge in the first quarter related to the acquisition of Great Lakes Bancorp.

Quarterly earnings rose 16.4% at Commerce Bancshares Inc., to $28 million. Commerce, a $9.6 billion-asset Kansas City, Mo., banking company, recorded record full-year earnings of $108 million, up 12% from 1994. Bank officials credited growth in fee income and a stable interest margin.

First Financial Corp., a $5.5 billion-asset thrift company based in Stevens Point, Wis., reported $19 million in fourth-quarter earnings, up 17% from restated earnings for the 1994 period. Full-year earnings were $64 million, also a 17% increase. The company took a $4 million charge in the first quarter related to its February acquisition of FirstRock Bancorp.

Magna Group Inc. of St. Louis posted quarterly income of $14 million, up 9% from the fourth quarter of 1994. Full-year income grew 14%, to $51 million. Officials of the $5 billion-asset bank company said earnings growth came from strong loan demand, reduced expenses, and a reduction of nonperforming assets.

St. Paul Bancorp reported fourth-quarter income of $9.3 million, a 7% increase. Full-year income was $36.4 million, a 5% increase from 1994. The $4 billion-asset Chicago thrift company said its strong asset quality allowed it to reduce its provision for loan losses by 63%, to $1.9 million in 1995.

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