Northwest Bancshares, of Warren, Pa., said Monday that earnings for the quarter that ended March 31 fell 12% from the same period last year, to $15.2 million, as low yields on loans suppressed interest income and losses on foreclosed property ate into noninterest income. Its earnings per share remained unchanged at 16 cents and came in a penny shy of consensus analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters.

The highlight of the quarter was improved asset quality. Total loans that are at least 60 days past due fell 14% from the prior quarter and 27% from the year-earlier period, while its ratio of nonperforming loans to total loans declined 62 basis points year over year, to 2.23%. Despite the improvement in loan quality, the $8 billion-asset Northwest only reduced its loan-loss provision by about $1 million from the prior quarter, to $6.3 million, due to continued caution "about the sustainability of the economic recovery."

Total loans grew 3.3% year over year, but net interest income fell 2.4%, to $65.4 million, due to declines in interest income on both loans and investments in securities. Noninterest income fell 4.8%, to $13.6 million, as the company took an additional $1 million loss on its other real estate owned.

Northwest's shares at $12.29 late Monday, down 1.9% from Friday's closing price.

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