Investors Bancorp (ISBC) in Short Hills, N.J. reported a surge in quarterly profit because of a stronger balance sheet.

The $16.4 billion-asset company's first-quarter earnings rose 26% from a year earlier, to $34.4 million. Earnings per share of 26 cents were 2 cents higher than the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Investors' net interest income rose 27%, to $129 million. The increase was largely because of a 27.6% increase in the average balance of net loans, which included increases in multifamily, residential and real estate loans. Investors also gained $195.1 million of loans from its January purchase of Gateway Community Financial. The net interest margin was unchanged, at 3.36%.

Investors' noninterest income rose 18%, to $11.9 million, partially because of a $1.5 million bargain purchase gain related to the Gateway deal.

Noninterest expenses jumped 37.6%, to $77.2 million, and included $710,000 of one-time costs tied to Gateway. Compensation and benefits cost rose by $10 million as Investors expanded its staff following recent recent acquisitions, including Gateway and Roma Financial. Investors bought Roma in December.

Investors cut its loan-loss provision by 35%, to $9 million. Net chargeoffs fell 65%, to $2.2 million.

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