Santa Cruz County Bank (SCZC) of Santa Cruz, Calif., reported higher quarterly profit because of balance sheet growth.

The $356 million-asset bank's fourth-quarter earnings rose 17% from a year earlier, to $2.8 million, or 44 cents a share.

Santa Cruz County Bank's net interest income rose 14% from a year earlier, to $3.6 million. Its loan book expanded 18% from a year earlier, to $226 million. Deposits increased 12% from a year earlier, to $321.6 million. Its net interest margin expanded by 11 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2011, to 4.12%.

The loan-loss provision shrank by 33% from a year earlier, to $200,000.

Noninterest income rose 16% from a year earlier, to $974,602.

"This consistent growth and superior financial performance highlights our continued focus on fiscal management, credit quality and increasing shareholder value," David Heald, the bank's president and chief executive, said in a press release Friday.

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