MutualFirst Financial Inc. reported a fourth-quarter profit as credit costs ticked up but securities problems abated.

The Muncie, Ind., company earned $1.4 million, compared with a $1.6 million loss a year earlier.

The loan-loss provision fell 20% from the third quarter but was up 7.5% from a year earlier, at $1.7 million

Nonperforming assets at the $1.4 billion-asset company totaled $45 million, or 3.2% of total assets. Nonperformers were up 18% from the third quarter and 12.5% from a year earlier.

The fourth-quarter 2009 results included a $2.4 million other-than-temporary securities impairment charge. In the most recent quarter, such charges totaled $15,000.

MutualFirst's results also benefited from a 16% reduction in salary and benefits expenses, which totaled $5.1 million. The company attributed the decrease to staff reductions and retirements.

For the year, earnings jumped 235% from a year earlier, to $4.7 million.

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