FirstMerit Corp. in Akron, Ohio, reported Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 13% from a year earlier, to $30.5 million, largely due to lower credit costs.

The $14.4 billion-asset company also said it was planning to launch an expense management and revenue generation initiative. “We are in the process of evaluating nearly 4,000 ideas submitted by employees at all levels of the corporation,” said Paul G. Greig, FirstMerit’s chairman, president and CEO, in the release. Greig said the company plans to begin implementing “the best of these ideas” in the spring. The company did not disclose a target for the program.

FirstMerit’s loan-loss provision fell 36% from a year earlier, to $15 million. Net interest income from 5% from a year earlier, to $123.6 million; the net interest margin shrank 29 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.85%. The company said that the margin shrank due to lower earning asset yields associated with a “persistently low interest rate environment.”

Noninterest expenses rose 1.2% from a year earlier, to $123.9 million. Expenses for the fourth quarter of 2011 included $4.9 million of fees tied to a repositioning of the company’s investment portfolio and $1.3 million related to an increase in the liability tied to the sale of Visa class B shares in 2008.

Full-year net income rose 16% from a year earlier, to $119.6 million.

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