Wintrust Financial's fourth-quarter earnings fell 7% from a year earlier, to $35.5 million, as a revenue surge failed to offset the higher costs associated with recent acquisitions.

The results were a surprise to Wall Street, as analysts had expected the Wintrust, Ill., company to report earnings per share of 77 cents; instead it reported a per-share profit of 64 cents. Wintrust's shares were down more than 3% late Tuesday to $42.20.

The $22.9 billion-asset company reported noninterest expenses of $166.8 million, up 16.3% from a year earlier. In a press release Tuesday, it attributed the year-over-year increase to higher compensation and benefit costs associated with the deals, as well as increased equipment, occupancy and marketing expenses.

The company completed three acquisitions in 2015, totaling assets of roughly $1.1 billion. It also announced last week that it would acquire the $125 million-asset Generations Bancorp.

Chief Executive Ed Wehmer described 2015 as a "year marked by long-term investments." In addition to the acquisitions, the company created a new leasing division, built out a flagship office in downtown Chicago and embarked on multiyear branding sponsorships with cultural organizations and sports teams, including the Chicago Cubs.

"These investments are expected to pay substantial dividends in the coming year and beyond," Wehmer said in the press release.

Net revenue was $232.3 million, up 10% from a year earlier. Net interest income was $167 million, up 9% as loan growth helped to offset net interest margin pressure. Loan balances increased 19% from a year earlier, to $17.1 billion, and nearly 5% from the third quarter 2015. Its net interest margin of 3.29% was down 17 basis points from a year earlier and 4 basis points from the third quarter.

Noninterest income was $65.1 million, up 13% from a year earlier, thanks largely to higher fees from interest rate swaps and operating leases.

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