People's United Financial in Bridgeport, Conn., reported higher first-quarter profit on higher lending fees and gains on the sale of loans.

The $36.4 billion-asset company's net earnings increased 11% year over year, to $59.2 million. Earnings per share of 20 cents met the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Noninterest income drove the rise in net profit, rising 11% to $89 million. The growth was fueled by a $3.5 million uptick in commercial banking lending fees and an increase in net gains on the sales of acquired loans and residential mortgage loans.

Net interest income rose 0.4% to $228.1 million. Total loans grew 9% to $26.9 billion. The net interest margin fell 26 basis points to 2.91%. The margin compression was caused by this year's first quarter having two fewer days than last year's, and because loans were originated at rates lower than the bank's existing loans, David Rosato, chief financial officer, said in a news release.

Noninterest expense remained flat from last year at $217.6 million. Higher compensation and benefit costs were offset by decreases in operating lease and other expenses.

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