Northwest Bancshares (NWBI) in Warren, Pa., reported a 12% rise in quarterly earnings as its asset quality improved and its costs fell.

The $7.9 billion-asset company reported a profit of $17.6 million in the third quarter, compared with $15.7 million in the same period last year, it announced Monday. Per-share earnings of 19 cents beat the average expectation of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 3 cents.

Net interest income fell 5%, to $62.5 million, a dip that the bank attributed mainly to low interest rates. Net interest margin decreased by 18 basis points, to 3.48%. The provision for loan losses fell 28%, to $5 million, and net chargeoffs dropped to $1.7 million from $5.8 million.

Northwest's noninterest income rose 6%, to $16.1 million, thanks to fewer losses on its real estate holdings. Mortgage banking income fell to $203,000 from $1.5 million, as originations slowed, the bank said. Its insurance commissions rose by roughly $539,000, because of its acquisition this year of the Bert Co., a Pennsylvania insurance firm, Northwest said.

Noninterest expenses dropped 3%, to $50.3 million, largely because of a 44% decline in marketing expense linked to the timing of marketing campaigns, Northwest said.

In August Northwest began offering a service to help its customers manage their royalties from natural-gas production.

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