FirstMerit (FMER) in Akron, Ohio, posted stronger quarterly results largely because of higher fee income and lower expenses.

The $14.9 billion-asset company's earnings rose 25% from a year earlier, to $38.2 million. Earnings per share of 35 cents surpassed the average analysts' estimate by 3 cents, according to Bloomberg.

Net interest income fell 4% from a year earlier, to $116.2 million. The net interest margin compressed 27 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.58%. Noninterest income rose 3% from a year earlier, to $61.6 million.

Noninterest expense fell 10% from a year earlier, to $112.1million, because of a lack of charges tied to mortgage-repurchase agreements and lower Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. premiums. FirstMerit's efficiency ratio of 62.65% was an improvement from 69.46% a year earlier.

FirstMerit's loan book grew 13% from a year earlier, to $8.7 billion, after it originated more commercial and home equity loans.

The loan-loss provision fell 8.1% from a year earlier, to $98.9 million. Net chargeoffs fell by roughly half from a year earlier, to $7.1 million.

FirstMerit announced in September that it would buy Citizens Republic Bancorp (CRBC) in Flint, Mich., for $912 million in stock.

"While the low-interest rate environment and slow economic recovery continue to challenge the banking industry, I am pleased to report that FirstMerit again performed well and grew our business," Paul Greig, FirstMerit's chief executive, said in a press release Tuesday.

Separately, Citizens Republic on Tuesday also reported stronger results on lower expenses. Earnings at the $9.5 billion-asset company rose 38% from a year earlier, to $17 million. Noninterest expense fell 2.2% from a year earlier, to $65.1 million, following a recovery in the value of foreclosed-upon real estate. The loan-loss provision fell 71% from a year earlier, to $4.3 million.

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