Peoples Bancorp (PEBO) in Marietta, Ohio, reported increased profit despite a shrinking net interest margin.

The $1.9 billion-asset company's fourth-quarter earnings rose 11% from a year earlier, to $3.9 million.

Peoples' net interest income rose slightly from a year earlier, to $14.1 million. The company said the increase came from commercial and consumer lending and benefits from its acquisition of Sistersville Bancorp.

Peoples reported a $503,000 credit to its loan-loss reserve during the fourth quarter. Its margin compressed 7 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.42%. Peoples also recorded a pretax loss of $1 million tied to debt repayment.

Noninterest income rose 6% from a year earlier, to $2.1 million, because of higher mortgage-banking income.

"We returned to positive operating leverage in 2012 due to the strength of our fee-based businesses and disciplined expense management," Chuck Sulerzyski, the company's president and chief executive, said in a press release Tuesday. "In addition to significantly higher mortgage-banking activity, double-digit increases occurred within our trust and investment income and e-banking revenues."

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