Net income at First Interstate BancSystem in Billings, Mont., grew 24.2% from the third quarter, to $10.8 million.

The $7.5 billion-asset company attributed the results to strong income from the origination and sale of residential real estate loans and the reversal of previously recorded mortgage-servicing rights impairment.

Quarterly net income declined 5.9% from a year earlier, and annual income fell 32.7%, to $33.9 million last year, from $50.4 million in 2009.

The provision for loan losses fell slightly from the previous quarter, to $17.5 million, and chargeoffs rose 41%, to $18 million. Nonperforming assets grew 18.8%, to $244.3 million.

The allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans rose by 6 basis points from the previous quarter, to 2.76%.

"With this strong reserve and the conservative position we have taken on our impaired loans, we believe credits costs will be manageable in 2011," Lyle Knight, the company's chief executive, said in a press release.

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