Regions Financial Corp. (RF), Alabama's biggest bank, said first-quarter profit rose 68 percent, beating analyst estimates as the lender cuts costs and reduced provisions for loan losses.

Net income climbed to $335 million, or 23 cents a share, from $199 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier, the Birmingham- based lender said Tuesday in a statement. The average estimate of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for profit of 20 cents a share.

The biggest U.S. lenders have been cutting costs to generate higher profits as revenue growth stalls. Regions, run by Chief Executive Officer Grayson Hall, 55, is focusing on expense management with loan growth in the low-single digits, Chief Financial Officer David Turner told investors last month.

"Building on this foundation while prudently managing expenses, Regions is moving forward to take advantage of growth opportunities in all of our businesses as the economy improves,'' Hall said in the statement.

Regions said last month it plans to raise its quarterly dividend to 3 cents, buy back as much as $350 million in shares and may repurchase or redeem up to about $500 million in trust- preferred securities after the Federal Reserve didn't object to its capital plan.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.