Earnings at National Penn Bancshares in Allentown, Pa., rose slightly in the third quarter as the company expanded its loan portfolio and and lowered expenses.

The $8.6 billion-asset company reported a 3% rise in net income, to $25.3 million, when compared with the same period last year. Earnings per share of 18 cents met the estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Net interest income increased roughly 2%, to $64.2 million. Total loans grew approximately 5% as both commercial and consumer loan portfolios increased. Net interest margin compressed six basis points, to 3.43%.

Meanwhile, the company's asset quality continued to improve during the third quarter. Classified loans totaled $170 million and have decreased 22% over the last year. National Penn recorded a loan loss provision of $1 million, compared to $1.3 million a year earlier.

Noninterest expenses remain well-managed, as costs fell nearly 3%, to $52.2 million.

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