Republic Bancorp Inc. in Louisville, Ky., reported on Thursday fourth-quarter results of $6.2 million, partially driven by loan growth and improved asset quality, and year-end earnings of $94.1 million, due to higher income from its Tax Refund Solutions.

The $3.4 billion-asset company said that fourth-quarter earnings were up 40% year over year while 2011’s results rose 45%.

The company said that Tax Refund Solutions drives most of the revenues during the first and second quarters. This year the unit generated $67.3 million in income, a 52% jump from 2010.

However, Republic said in December that due to a dispute with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over its tax-refund loan program it will no longer offer refund-anticipation loans after the upcoming tax season.

For the fourth quarter, net interest income rose to $26.9 million, up almost 6% from a year earlier. This was due to growth in the loan portfolio and placing excess cash into higher-yielding investment securities. Loans increased 5%, to $2.3 billion.

The provision for loan loss dropped 73.5% from a year earlier, to $463,000, for the fourth quarter. Nonperforming loans totaled $23.3 million, down almost 18% from a year earlier.

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