Washington Federal Inc. in Seattle said Wednesday that its fiscal-year first-quarter earnings jumped 36% from a year earlier, to $33.4 million, due to lower credit expenses.

The $13.6 billion-asset company reported earnings per share of 31 cents, beating  consensus analyst expectations by two cents. Roy M. Whitehead, chairman, president and chief executive, said that declining loan losses and stronger demand for foreclosed real estate propped up profits at a time when loan and revenue growth remain weak.

Credit related expenses, including the provision for loan losses and charges related to real estate owned, totaled $21.8 million for the quarter, down 40% from a year earlier. Overall delinquencies declined to 3.13% for the quarter, down from 3.43% at Sept. 30.

The loan portfolio totaled $7.8 billion for the quarter, down about 2% from Sept. 30.

During the quarter the company also closed two acquisitions. In October, it completed its purchase of $254 million in deposits and six branches in New Mexico from Charter Bank. In December, the company acquired almost all of the assets and liabilities of the failed Western National Bank in Phoenix.

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