Investors Bancorp (ISBC) in Short Hills, N.J., reported higher third-quarter earnings because of loan growth and better credit.

The $11.5 billion-asset company's earnings rose almost 23% from a year earlier, to $24.5 million, or 23 cents a share.

Net loans increased almost 6% from Dec. 31, to $9.3 billion, reflecting an ongoing focus on multifamily and commercial real estate loans. The origination largely dealt with properties in New Jersey and New York, the company said in a press release.

The yield on interest-earning assets fell due to the low interest rate environment, but the company was also able to reduce its cost of funds. The net interest margin contracted by just 4 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.35%.

Net interest income rose roughly 9% from a year earlier, to $91.9 million. The average balance of interest-earning assets rose about $1 billion from a year earlier, to $11 billion at Sept. 30. The loan-loss provision fell 20% from a year earlier, to $16 million.

Noninterest income increased more than 74% from a year earlier, to $12.7 million, because of increased gains on the sale of loans. The company also reported increases in its fees and service charges related to servicing third-party loan portfolios and from commercial deposit and loan accounts.

During the quarter, Investors Bancorp also paid its first quarterly cash dividend. The company also completed its purchase of Marathon Bank in October.

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