Higher fees powered PrivateBancorp (PVTB) in Chicago in the fourth quarter.

The $14.9 billion-asset company's earnings rose 163% from a year earlier, to $20 million. Earnings per share of 26 cents were in line with the average of analysts' estimates, according to Bloomberg.

Noninterest income increased 16.2% from a year earlier, to $29.5 million, because of higher fees from mortgage banking, loans and treasury services.

Noninterest expense rose roughly 6.7% from the fourth quarter of 2011, to $81.3 million. PrivateBancorp's efficiency ratio was 60.2%, compared with 59.1% a year earlier.

Net interest income rose 1.8% from a year earlier, to $104.8 million. The net interest margin shrank 32 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2011, to 3.16%.

PrivateBancorp's loan book grew 12.2% from a year earlier, to $9.9 billion. Its loan-loss provision fell 59% from the fourth quarter of 2011, to $13.1 million.

"We continued our earnings momentum in the fourth quarter and leveraged our client- relationship-development capabilities to generate solid loan and deposit growth, including significant yearend activity, and increased fee income," Larry Richman, PrivateBancorp's chief executive, said in a press release.

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