South State in Columbia, S.C., reported higher quarterly profits thanks to lower costs and higher fee-based income.

The $7.8 billion-asset company earned $21.2 million in the fourth quarter, up 61% from a year earlier.

A drop in operating costs fueled profits. Noninterest expenses slid 11%, to $74.7 million, primarily because South State a year earlier had expenses associated with its acquisition and rebranding of the $3.2 billion-asset First Federal Bank.

An uptick in mortgage banking revenue lifted fee-based income by 23%, to $25.3 million.

Total loans held steady at $5.7 billion, while net interest income tumbled 3%, to $81.6 million. The net interest margin narrowed 19 basis points, to 4.72%, in part because of lower yields.

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