Sterling Bancorp in New York said Monday that its first-quarter earnings fell 43% from a year earlier, to $2.8 million, or 15 cents a share.

The results included an $842,000 expense for the dividends paid on its government capital.

The $2.1 billion-asset company said it increased its provision for loan losses 210%, to $6.2 million.

Net chargeoffs rose 234%, to $5 million, and nonperforming assets rose 103%, to $17.6 million, mostly because of trouble with leases financed for small businesses.

To counter the deterioration in leasing, Sterling said it strengthened its underwriting standards, enhanced credit evaluation and intensified collection efforts.

It said its overall credit quality remained strong, with its ratio of nonperforming assets to total assets relatively low at 0.83%.

Credit quality even improved in certain categories, such as commercial and industrial loans, Sterling said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.