Sterling Financial Corp. of Spokane said after the markets closed Tuesday that its second-quarter profit fell 57% from a year earlier, to $11.7 million, or 23 cents a share.

But the $12.7 billion-asset company's results beat the average analyst estimate by 7 cents a share.

Sterling said cost-reduction efforts, a stable net interest margin, and lower credit losses helped it boost net income fourfold from the first quarter. It also said its provision for credit losses shrank 16.2% from the first quarter, to $31 million.

"Our credit team has generally identified, quantified, and isolated the distressed assets, which primarily reside in our residential construction portfolio," Harold B. Gilkey, Sterling's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "We are encouraged by the results we are seeing. We, however, remain cautious, as parts of the Pacific Northwest continue to see pockets of credit deterioration."

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