Sterling Financial (STSA) in Spokane, Wash., reported lower quarterly earnings after suffering a decline in mortgage banking revenue.

The $10 billion-asset company's third-quarter earnings fell 31% from a year earlier, to $21 million. Sterling agreed to sell itself to Umpqua Holdings (UMPQ) in Portland, Ore., for $2 billion last month, a deal that would create the largest regional bank in the Pacific Northwest.

"Our third-quarter operating results reflect a substantial reduction in mortgage banking activity and elevated merger-related expenses," Greg Seibly, Sterling's chief executive, said in a press release. "With the exception of these two items, our core banking performance was solid. We continued to expand loans, reduce funding costs and improve asset quality metrics."

Noninterest income fell 32% from a year earlier, to $31.2 million. Mortgage banking income was roughly half that of a year earlier, at $13.5 million. Revenue from fees and service charges rose by 5% from the third quarter of 2012, to $15.4 million.

Net interest income rose 10% from a year earlier, to $82.5 million. The net interest margin widened by 16 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.59%. The loan portfolio grew by 17% from the third quarter of last year, to $7 billion. There was no loan-loss provision, and net chargeoffs fell 80% from a year earlier, to $1.1 million.

Noninterest expenses fell 5% from a year earlier, to $85.3 million, despite $3.9 million of merger-related expenses. Sterling completed its acquisition of Commerce National Bank in Newport Beach, Calif., on Oct. 1.

Sterling and Umpqua expect their merger to close in the first half of next year.

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