Profits at People's United Financial in Bridgeport, Conn., edged up in the fourth quarter thanks to fee income and loan growth.

The $36 billion-asset company reported earnings of $64.7 million, or 9% more than the same period last year. Earnings were 22 cents per share, beating a Bloomberg analyst poll by a penny.

Fee-based income also contributed to the rise in quarterly earnings. Noninterest income rose 5%, to $86.8 million, mainly from investment fees and gains on securities.

Total loans rose 9%, to $26.6 billion. Net interest income increased 1%, to $228 million.

The net interest margin slipped 24 basis points, to 3%. The company attributed the drop to lower interest rates on newer loans.

Asset quality held relatively steady, as the bank trimmed its provision for losses by 1%, to $9.9 million.

Noninterest expenses remained flat at $208 million.

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