Investors Bancorp in Short Hills, N.J., reported higher third-quarter earnings, fueled by strong loan growth.

The $17.8 billion-asset bank's profits increased 33% from the same period last year, to $39 million. Earnings were 11 cents per share, beating a Bloomberg analyst poll by a penny.

Year-over-year comparisons are skewed, in part, by gains from the bank's recent acquisitions. Investors closed on its purchase of the $133 million-asset RomAsia Bank and the $1.5 billion-asset Roma Bank in December. It also bought the $289 million-asset GCF Bank in January.

Total lending increased 25% from last year, to $14.2 billion. Net interest income rose 25%, to $137.8 million.
The net interest margin compressed 11 basis points, to 3.27%.

Fee-based income climbed 4%, to $9.9 million, mainly from increases in bank-owned life insurance.

Earnings were weighed down by a jump in operating expenses, which increased 26%, to $76.6 million, on higher compensation costs.

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