Buoyed by a lower loan-loss provision, Lakeland Financial Corp. in Warsaw, Ind., said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profits rose 43% from a year earlier, to $8.3 million.

The $2.9 billion-asset company’s 2011 profits rose 25% compared to 2010, to $30.7 million. At 50 cents a share, the results were 2 cents short of the average analysts’ estimate, according to Thomson Reuters.

The loan-loss provision fell about 55% from a year earlier, to $2.9 million. The decline related to a stabilization and improvement in key loan quality metrics, including lower net chargeoffs and an adequate reserve coverage for nonperforming loans.

Lakeland’s average loan balances rose 5.5% from a year earlier, to $2.2 billion. Commercial and industrial loans rose more than 12% from a year earlier, to $751.2 million.

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