Increased lending boosted quarterly results at Sandy Spring Bancorp (SASR) in Olney, Md.

Earnings at the $4 billion-asset company rose 38% from a year earlier, to $9.9 million. Earnings per share of 40 cents were 4 cents a share above the average analysts' estimate, according to Bloomberg.

Net interest income rose 9% from a year earlier, to $31 million. The net interest margin widened by 2 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.53%.

Noninterest income rose 8% from a year earlier, to $12.2 million, because of revenue from mortgage banking.

Noninterest expense were flat from a year earlier, at $27.2 million. Still, the company's efficiency ratio improved to 60.5% in the fourth quarter, compared to 65.1% a year earlier.

The loan portfolio increased 14% from a year earlier, to $2.5 billion. Net chargeoffs fell 68% from a year earlier, to $829,000.

"The solid results . . . were a result of the combination of increased loan growth and continued improvement to our funding mix," Daniel Schrider, Sandy Spring's chief executive, said in a press release.

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