Higher wealth management fees and improved interest income led First Republic Bank in San Francisco to double-digit profit growth in the fourth quarter.

Net income at the $59 billion-asset bank rose 23% to $124.7 million from a year earlier, as revenue climbed 19% to $494.5 million. Earnings per share rose 17% to 84 cents.

Net interest income after the provision for loan losses rose 20%, to $392.7 million. Income from loans rose 11%, to $357.4 million and income from securities investments rose 46% to $81 million. The net interest margin compressed to 3.10%.

Single-family mortgage loans held on the balance sheet rose 13% to $23.1 billion.

Fee income rose 19% to $90.2 million. First Republic reported higher fees for services related to investment advisory, brokerage, trust management and foreign exchange income. Those improvements were offset by a 64% decrease in the gain on the sale of loans, to $1.5 million.

Wealth assets under management rose 35% to $72.3 billion, a figure that includes assets held for investment management, brokerage, money market mutual funds, and trust and custodial services.

Noninterest expense rose 23% to $300.9 million. First Republic spent more on salaries and employee benefits, information systems, FDIC assessments, advertising and the amortization of intangibles. The efficiency ratio widened to 60.8%.

First Republic's shares were up 2.3% in early trading Thursday, to $62.27.

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