Pinnacle Financial Partners posted strong fourth-quarter numbers thanks to loan growth centered around its Nashville and Knoxville markets in Tennessee.

Pinnacle, based in Nashville, reported a quarterly profit of $18.7 million, 22% higher than in the same period in 2013.

Loans increased 11% year over year, to $4.6 billion. "Rapid loan growth was the cornerstone for increased operating leverage and profitability for our firm," Chief Executive M. Terry Turner said in a press release this week.

Net interest income correlated with Pinnacle's loan growth, rising 11%, to $50.3 million. Pinnacle's net interest margin was 3.76%, up six basis points from the year before.

Noninterest income increased 11.6%, to $14.4 million. Increased wealth management volume and interchange revenues drove the increase, Pinnacle said.

Noninterest expenses rose 5%, to $34.3 million. That amount correlates closely to a $1.7 million increase in employee salaries and benefits.

Earnings per share were $0.53, on track with the average estimate of $0.531 among analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Pinnacle holds $6 billion in total assets.

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