Northwest Bancshares Inc. in Warren, Pa., said Monday that its fourth-quarter profits climbed 19%, to $15.2 million, from a year earlier as credit quality improved and fee income from trust and insurance services rose.

The $8 billion-asset company also reported year-end profits of $64.1 million, up 11.5% from 2010. The company's earnings per share totaled 16 cents, a penny shy of estimates from consensus analysts.

Northwest's fourth-quarter provision for loan losses dropped 24.5%, to $10.5 million, from a year earlier. The company's nonperforming loans also declined 11.6%, to $17.3 million.

Reductions in service charges on deposits were offset by increased fee income from trust and insurance services. Trust and other financial services income for 2011 increased 12%, to $8.1 million while insurance commission income jumped 26% to $6.5 million from a year earlier. For the fourth quarter, trust income rose 3% to almost $2 million and insurance commission income climbed 16% to $1.6 million.

The company's fourth-quarter net interest income slipped 1%, to $66.5 million, from a year earlier. This was due to an almost 4% drop in interest income from loans.

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