It didn't long for a lower tax rate to offset the hit Fulton Financial took late last year after reform legislation passed.

The $20 billion-asset company reported late Tuesday that a lower tax rate swelled its first-quarter profit by $15.6 million. That offset most of the $16 million charge that the Lancaster, Pa., company took in the fourth quarter tied to the revaluation of its deferred-tax asset.

Overall profit rose 14% from a year earlier, to $49.5 million.

"Despite a seasonally weaker first quarter in terms of growth, our financial results benefited from a favorable interest rate environment, stable credit conditions, and a reduction in non-interest expenses,” E. Philip Wenger, Fulton's chairman and CEO, said in a press release.

Loans increased by 5.4% to $15.7 billion, while deposits rose by 3.6% to $15.4 billion. Fulton, which has a 102% loan-to-deposit ratio at March 31, had to rely on some brokered deposits to fund its loan growth.

Loan growth reflected double-digit increases in residential and construction lending.

Net chargeoffs totaled $4 million, or 0.1% of annualized average loans, at March 31. Nonaccrual loans rose 5% to $123 million, though they represented only 0.78% of total loans.

Reaching out: "It's one thing to have a program or put together a plan you have a lot of passion about; it's another to be successful," said Fulton Chairman and CEO E. Philip Wenger. "We want to be a model for helping communities that need assistance."
Fulton Financial, led by CEO E. Philip Wenger, reported higher loan and deposit totals in the first quarter.

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