KeyCorp (KEY) in Cleveland reported higher fourth-quarter earnings from a year earlier after cutting expenses and booking more loans.

The $92.9 billion-asset company's profit of $224 million was 14% higher than a year earlier, but almost 16% lower than in the third quarter, according to a news release Thursday. Earnings per share totaled 25 cents, meeting estimates from analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Revenue totaled roughly $1 billion, down less than 1% year over year. Net interest income fell 3%, to $589 million, as KeyCorp's net interest margin dropped 36 basis points, to 3.01%, from a year earlier. Average loans totaled $53.6 billion, up more than 3% from a year earlier. Commercial, financial and agricultural loans jumped almost 8%, to $24.2 billion.

The company's noninterest income rose slightly more than 3%, to $453 million. A steep drop in investment banking and debt placement fees was partially offset by mortgage servicing fees roughly tripling from a year earlier.

Noninterest expense declined 3%, to $712 million, as personnel costs dropped almost 6% year over year. During the fourth quarter, KeyCorp recorded $22 million in expenses related to an efficiency initiative and $2 million for a pension settlement charge.

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