Costs associated with M&T Bank's successful but prolonged effort to buy Hudson City Bancorp pushed the Buffalo, N.Y., company's fourth-quarter profit lower.

Net income at the $123 billion-asset M&T fell 2.4% to $248.1 million, compared with a year earlier. Yet its adjusted earnings per share (which exclude the merger costs) were $2.05, ahead of a consensus analyst estimate of $1.97, according to Bloomberg.

M&T finally completed its acquisition of Hudson City, in Paramus, N.J., in November, after more than three years of regulatory delays.

Fourth-quarter noninterest expense at M&T rose 18% from a year earlier, to $786.1 million. It made a $21 million provision for credit losses on loans acquired from Hudson City that had a fair value in excess of their outstanding principal. Expenses also rose because of increases in salaries, and costs for equipment, supplies and deposit-insurance assessments.

Excluding costs tied to the Hudson City deal, M&T said its noninterest expense rose 6.4% to $701 million. Still, its efficiency ratio improved 231 basis points to 55.53%.

Net interest income after a provision for credit losses rose 15% to $749 million. The provision rose 76% to $58 million. The net interest margin widened 2 basis points to 3.12%.

Net loans and leases rose 32% to $86.5 billion, in part because of the addition of Hudson City. The largest increase among loan categories was in residential mortgage loans, which more than tripled to $26.3 billion.

Fee income fell 1% to $448.1 million, on lower trust income and residential mortgage banking fees associated with loan servicing.

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