PrivateBancorp (PVTB) in Chicago beat quarterly earnings estimates as its lending revenue and credit quality continued to improve.

The $14.3 billion-asset company reported a first-quarter profit of $34.5 million, up 27% from the first quarter of 2013. Earnings per share of 44 cents beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 3 cents.

PrivateBancorp's loan book expanded while its cost of funding decreased, leading to a 6% rise in net interest income, to $108.8 million. Its net interest margin widened by 4 basis points, to 3.23%.

PrivateBancorp's asset quality continued its steady improvement. Its provision for loan losses decreased by 64%, to $3.7 million, and its chargeoffs were $4.9 million, down from $19.5 million.

Noninterest income ticked down 14%, to $26.2 million, on weak mortgage-banking revenue and slightly lower asset-management fees and investment income. Noninterest expenses dipped by 4%, to $75.8 million, due to a decline in costs associated with foreclosed properties and loan collections.

PrivateBancorp has built out its commercial-and industrial loan business in recent years. Chief Executive Larry Richman said in February that he's looking for an acquisition that would add to the company's retail deposit base.

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