Sterling reports increased profit on commercial loan growth

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Sterling Bancorp in Montebello, N.Y., reported higher quarterly earnings that reflected strong loan growth and lower expenses.

The $14.7 billion-asset company said in a press release late Tuesday that its first-quarter profit rose 64% to $39.1 million.

Net interest income increased by 16% to $93.5 million.

Total loans rose 18% to $9.8 billion, while the net interest margin widened by 4 basis points to 3.46%. Commercial loans increased by 21% while the number of consumer loans fell slightly.

The loan-loss provision rose by $500,000, to $4 million. Net chargeoffs increased by 5% to $1.2 million. Nonperforming loans fell by 15% to $72.9 million.

Sterling said its aggregate exposure to taxi medallion relationships was $49.8 million, or 0.51% of total loans. Balances fell nearly $2 million from the end of last year, largely due to repayments.

Noninterest income fell 17% to $12.8 million, largely reflecting the company’s fourth-quarter sale of its trust division. Mortgage banking income fell to just $271,000 from about $2 billion a year earlier.

Noninterest expenses fell 12% to $60.4 million. Results from a year earlier included $8.7 million tied to debt retirement and a $2.5 million charge associated with asset writedowns, retention and severance.

Sterling, which agreed earlier this year to buy Astoria Financial in Lake Success, N.Y., recorded $3.1 million in merger-related charges in the first quarter.

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