Higher-yielding loans contribute to Associated's 78% profit spike

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Associated Banc-Corp in Green Bay, Wis., reported higher quarterly profit, as higher-yielding loans offset a slight decrease in fee income.

The $33.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit rose 78% from a year earlier, to $88.9 million. The 2017 results were affected by tax reform.

Net interest income increased by 20%, to $224 million.

Total loans increased by 9%, to $22.8 billion. Deposits also rose by 9%, to $24.9 billion.

The net interest margin widened by 23 basis points, to 3.02%. The average yield for Huntington's loan portfolio increased by 83 basis points, to 4.55%.

Noninterest income fell by 0.6%, to $84 million. Revenues from card-based fees, loan fees and insurance were offset by asset losses and lower capital markets revenue.

The company said it should generate $360 million to $375 million of noninterest income this year.

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Noninterest expense increased by 6%, to $193 million, including merger-related charges and higher personnel expenses. The company bought BankMutual last year.

Associated said it expects to incur about $800 million in noninterest expenses this year.

The pending purchase of Wisconsin branches from Huntington Bancshares "will further enhance our core franchise, and we look forward to welcoming Huntington's customers to Associated in the second quarter," President and CEO Philip Flynn said in the release.

"For 2019, we expect modest loan growth, higher fee revenues, and continued efficiency gains to drive increasing returns on capital for our shareholders,” he added.

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