Aided by strong loan growth, Signature Bank (SBNY) in New York reported first-quarter net income of $42.4 million, up more than 22% from a year earlier.

The $15.3 billion-asset company said Tuesday that earnings per share totaled 90 cents, beating analysts' estimates by six cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

Loans, excluding loans held for sale, rose more than 7%, to $7.4 billion, from the fourth quarter. This increase was primarily driven by growth in commercial real estate and multifamily loans, the New York company said.

The bank's net interest income was up 22%, to $126.8 million, year over year because of growth in average interest-earning assets. Total assets grow by more than 23% from a year earlier while deposits increased 23%, to $12.5 billion, year over year.

The company's provision for loan losses fell more than 13%, to $10.7 million, as net chargeoffs declined roughly 23% to $5 million.

These gains were partially offset by a 40% drop from a year earlier in noninterest income, which totaled $9.1 million. This was due to a $5.3 million gain on the sale of an SBA interest-only strip security recorded in the first quarter of 2011. Noninterest expense also rose almost 13%, to $50.4 million, because of the addition of new private banking teams.

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