People's United Financial in Bridgeport, Conn., rode the sale of its payroll services business to a higher profit in the fourth quarter.

The $38.9 billion-asset company said late Thursday that its net income increased 9.4% from the same period in 2014, to $70.8 million. Earnings per share met the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg at 23 cents.

Much of the quarter's income growth stemmed from the sale of People's United's payroll services business to its current payroll software licensor. Including a $9.2 million gain on the sale, noninterest income rose 7.5% from the year prior, to $93.3 million.

The proceeds from the deal helped to mitigate decreases in revenue from the bank's insurance division, bank service charges and commercial banking lending fees.

People's United continued to see loan growth during the quarter, as total loans climbed 6.8% to $28.4 billion. Net interest income rose 4.7% to $238.8 million, but its net interest margin dipped 13 basis points to 2.87%.

Noninterest expenses climbed 4.5% to $217 million. Higher costs associated with professional and outside services and compensation contributed to the year-over-year increase.

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