New York Community Bancorp in Westbury reported higher quarterly profit, though it continued to sell loans to stay below $50 billion in assets.

The company said in a press release Wednesday that its first-quarter earnings rose 3% from a year earlier, to $119.3 million. The company sold more than $553 million in loans, slightly reducing its assets from Dec. 31, to $48.3 billion.

New York Community has been looking to keep its assets below the $50 billion-asset threshold that would eventually earn it status as a systemically important financial institution, or SIFI. The company has also been looking for a meaningful acquisition that would push it above that mark.

An increase in prepayment penalty income helped New York Community's net interest income rise 3%, to $292.8 million. Its net interest margin compressed by 4 basis points, to 2.68%. The company recovered $766,000 from previously charged-off loans, compared to net chargeoff of $2.6 million a year earlier.

Noninterest income jumped 40%, to $52.2 million. The first quarter of 2014 included a $11.7 million loss tied to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indemnification. Mortgage-banking income rose 26%, and loan sales also contributed to the increase. Noninterest expense rose 7%, to $156.8 million, on higher compensation expenses.

First Republic Bank in the first quarter became the first bank to pass the $50 billion-asset threshold since it was set, though it should take several more quarters before the San Francisco company officially reaches SIFI status.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.