People's United Financial (PBCT) in Bridgeport, Conn., reported late Wednesday steady first quarter results, characterized by loan growth and improved asset quality, the same day it disclosed a succession plan for its chief financial officer.

The $33 billion-asset bank earned $53 million in the first quarter, up 1% from the same period a year ago. Earnings per share of 18 cents were 2 cents lower than the estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

People's net interest income rose 4% from the same period the previous year, to $227 million. The company's loan portfolio totaled $24.6 million, an 11% increase. People's "increase in net interest income over the past several quarters primarily reflects growth in the loan portfolio despite a challenging interest rate environment and less interest income on acquired loans," the company's president and chief executive Jack Barnes said in the release.

The company's net interest margin decreased 21 basis points, to 3.17%. Noninterest income slipped 6%, to $79.9 million, as revenue from the sale of residential mortgage loans and insurance fell. Noninterest expense increased 2%, to $216.7 million.

"Our ability to control operating expenses, considering the number of strategic investments we made and the increasing cost of regulatory compliance, remains an important area of focus," the CFO, Kirk Walters, said in the release.

As asset quality continued to improve, People's slashed its loan-loss provision by 23%, to $9.5 million. Net loan chargeoffs totaled $7 million, down 47% from the same period a year ago.

People's also announced that Walters will be leaving his post due to family health issues. His departure took effect immediately. Walters will stay on as CFO of the holding company through Dec. 31 and is then scheduled to transition to a position as senior executive vice president of corporate development and strategic planning. Walters will remain a member of the board of the company and the bank.

David Rosato, who has served as People's treasurer since 2007, will succeed Walters as CFO of the company and its bank.

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