Florida's BankUnited Financial Corp. said its first-quarter earnings surged 166%, capping a year of fast growth.

The Coral Gables thrift earned $1.8 million in the three months, compared with $693,000 in the same period last year.

Assets doubled to $1.45 billion on March 31. BankUnited's loan portfolio grew 116% to $1.2 billion, and deposits rose 139% to more than $1 billion.

Most of the growth was attributable to the recent acquisition of Suncoast Savings and Loan, BankUnited said, but 42% of the asset growth was internally generated.

"While the recent rise in interest rate levels may result in some narrowing of our interest rate margin, we continue to anticipate progress in earnings as a result of the further growth of our institution," said Alfred R. Camner, chief executive officer. "We have begun to realize merger benefits from the acquisition of Suncoast, and we expect to receive important cost savings as the year continues."

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