Suffolk Bancorp in Riverhead, N.Y., posted stronger earnings in the first quarter on higher net interest income and a reduction in expenses.

The $1.9 billion-asset company increased its net income 8% from a year earlier, to $4 million. Earnings per share of 34 cents rested one-cent higher than the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Net interest income rose nearly 8%, to $16.5 million, mostly due to a $199 million increase in average total interest-earning assets that offset a 19-basis point drop in net interest margin to 4.02%.

A 1.5% decrease in operating expenses, to $13.1 million, also contributed to the higher earnings. Costs related to equipment, consulting and professional services, and employee compensation and benefits all fell.

However, noninterest income fell to $2.1 million, a 32% plunge. A 26% decline in service-charge income and the absence of fiduciary fee income (compared with $279,000 in the first quarter of 2014) contributed to the decline. Also, the first-quarter 2014 total was inflated by a one-time gain of $642,000 from a branch sale.

Another major contributor was a $642,000 pretax gain from a branch sale last year.

Looking ahead, Suffolk previewed its expansion efforts in Nassau County, N.Y., and New York City. The company plans to open its new business banking center in the New York borough of Queens in May.

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