Higher mortgage revenue and lower credit losses powered M&T Bank Corp. (MTB) in the fourth quarter.

The Buffalo, N.Y., company said Wednesday that fourth-quarter income roughly doubled, to $296 million, from a year earlier, primarily reflecting growth in mortgage banking and adjustments to its  results in the fourth quarter of 2011 that reduced income for that period by $33 million.

M&T reported earnings per share of $2.16 for the quarter, compared with an estimate of $2.17 by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Noninterest income totaled $453 million, up 13.8% from a year earlier. Mortgage banking revenues at the $83 billion-asset company rose 188%, to $116.5 million, year over year.

M&T reported taxable-equivalent net interest income of $674 million, up roughly 7.8% year over year. Net interest margin increased 14 basis points, to 3.74%, from the fourth quarter of 2011.

Noninterest expenses fell 15.4%, to $626 million, from a year earlier, reflecting an impairment charge and a charitable contribution that lifted expenses in the fourth quarter of 2011. The company's efficiency ratio improved to 53.6% from 67.4% a year earlier.

M&T's provision for credit losses fell roughly 34%, to $49 million, year over year. Net chargeoffs totaled $44 million, down 41% from a year ago.

Loans rose 11%, to $66.6 billion from a year earlier, reflecting an uptick in residential and commercial real estate loans and a pickup in business lending.

"This was a year of tremendous accomplishment, in which M&T recorded record levels of net income and earnings per share," Rene Jones, M&T's chief financial officer, said in a news release. "Revenues were up in most major categories, led by exceptional growth in mortgage banking."

Shares of M&T opened at $103.66 on Wednesday, up 20% from Tuesday's close.

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