Provident Financial Services (PFS) of Jersey City beat fourth-quarter earnings expectations as it lowered its loan-loss provision and profited from asset sales.

On Friday, the $7.3 billion-asset company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $16.7 million, up 12% from the final quarter of 2011. Per-share earnings of 29 cents were 2 cents higher than analysts polled by Bloomberg expected.

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