Provident Financial Services in Iselin, N.J., defended narrowly missing earnings expectations by calling its credit and pricing approaches "prudent" and disciplined.

The $8.5 billion-asset company's first-quarter profit increased 16.5% from a year earlier, to $19.8 million, because of growth and the purchase of Team Capital Bank in Bethlehem, Pa. Earnings per share of 32 cents missed the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by a penny.

Provident's net interest income rose 11.8%, to $61.3 million. Noninterest income increased 21.3%, to $10.3 million.

"While we continue to see extremely aggressive interest rates and credit terms being offered by our competitors, we remain committed to maintaining our conservative and prudent pricing and credit discipline," Christopher Martin, the company's chairman, president, and chief executive, said in a press release. "Strong loan originations during the quarter were diversified across all segments of the portfolio, particularly in Pennsylvania where we are adding lenders to existing teams to expand our loan product offerings in this market."

Noninterest expenses increased by 13.6%, to $43.4 million, largely because of increased compensation and employee benefits tied to the Team Capital deal.

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