Loan growth, primarily in its New York market, drove BankUnited's profit higher in the first quarter.

Net income at the $25 billion-asset Miami Lakes, Fla., company rose 18% to $54.9 million from a year earlier. Earnings per share rose 16% to 51 cents.

Net interest income after the loan-loss provision rose 23% to $203 million. The net interest margin narrowed to 3.83% from 4.02% as new loans were originated at yields lower than loans already on the books.

Average loans rose 32% to $16.7 billion. BankUnited's operations in New York generated $274 million of new loans in the quarter and its Florida operations generated $28 million. Most of the new loans came from commercial lending, mortgage warehouse lending, small business and residential loan purchase.

Noninterest income rose 12% to $23 million. BankUnited recorded a smaller loss on its Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indemnification, which shrunk to $6 million from $20 million. Lease financing increased 70% to $11 million.

Noninterest expense rose 24% to $142 million. Amortization of the FDIC indemnification asset rose 80% to $40 million. Depreciation of equipment under operating lease rose 89% to $6.5 million.

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