St. Louis-based Mercantile Bancorp on Thursday posted fourth-quarter earnings of $40.9 million, a 150% rise from restated results of a year earlier. Meanwhile, Chicago-based St. Paul Bancorp said earnings fell 9%, to $8.7 million.

Mercantile, a $12.2 billion-asset bank holding company, said full-year earnings totaled $161.03 million, or $3.74 per share, versus 1993's $118.9 million, or $2.80 per share.

Year-ago results were restated to reflect two stock-swap acquisitions, and also included $16.5 million of after-tax fourth-quarter charges made in preparation for the two transactions.

Annualized, Mercantile's fourth-quarter returns equaled 1.34% on average assets, up 80 basis points from a year ago, and 15.45% on average equity, up 8.6 percentage points.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Joseph Stieven said Mercantile's results were in line with market expectations. Though acknowledging that industrywide profitability is coming under pressure, Mr. Stieven predicted Mercantile would be able to sustain its results better than many other institutions.

St. Paul said fourth-quarter annualized returns equaled 0.88% on average assets, down 23 basis points from a year ago, and 9.72% on average equity, down 305 basis points.

For the full year, St. Paul earned $34.5 million, or $1.70 per share. That is down from 1993 earnings of $41.4 million, or $2.03 per share.

The thrift said earlier that prepayments of higher-yielding mortgages again caused unfavorable comparisons.

St. Paul repurchased 727,975 shares between mid-July and yearend, and it said directors had authorized the repurchase of up to 236,447 additional shares over the next six months.

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