Signature Bank (SBNY) in New York turned balance-sheet growth into record earnings in the fourth quarter.

The $22.4 billion-asset company reported a profit of $64.3 million, or $1.34 per share, a 28% increase from the same quarter in 2012. It beat the estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by seven cents per share.

Net interest income increased 21.2%, to $178.3 million, in the same period thanks to growth in average interest-earnings assets. They rose 28.5%, to $21.3 billion.

"The foundation for our continued success stems from our core philosophy to maintain a conservative and well-capitalized balance sheet for our depositors," Chief Executive Joseph DePaolo said in a release Tuesday.

The asset growth helped offset some negative factors.

Noninterest income fell 32.6%, to $6 million. Noninterest expenses increased 10.9% to $64.5 million for the fourth quarter. The expenses increased largely because of new private-client-banking teams joining and the addition of an asset-based lending team, the release said.

Meanwhile, net interest margin decreased 21 basis points since the fourth quarter of 2012.

Signature's provision for loan losses increased 6.3%, to $11 million; the bank attributed the increase to its loan growth.

Its net chargeoffs were 0.09% of average loans on an annual basis, down from 0.25% for the fourth quarter of 2012.

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