BankUnited in Miami Lakes, Fla., said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings increased 12% from the same period in 2015, to $63.3 million, as strong gains in interest income more than offset rising expenses and a sharply lower gain on sales of loans.

Earnings per share climbed 13.5% to 59 cents, the $27.9 billion-asset company said in a news release before the markets opened.

BankUnited attributed the quarterly earnings growth to higher average loan balances, which helped to offset the impact of higher interest and noninterest expenses.

BankUnited attributed the quarterly increase to higher average loan balances, which helped to negate the impact of higher interest and noninterest expenses.

Total loans increased nearly 17% to $19.4 billion as the company’s three main business units each added more than $100 million of new loans year over year. The New York franchise contributed $106 million of new loans, the Florida franchise added $176 million and the national platform – including its mortgage warehouse arm and its small-business finance unit – added $126 million. Net interest income increased 12% to $227.5 million.

The company reduced its loan loss provision in the quarter by 14% to $85 million, but problems in its taxi medallion loan portfolio persisted. Nonperforming taxi loans totaled $60.7 million at the end of 2016 compared to $2.6 million a year earlier.

Noninterest income increased only slightly from a year earlier to $29.3 million as higher fees from lease financing and deposit accounts was offset by a 73% drop in the gain on loan sales.

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Alan Kline

Alan Kline

Alan Kline is a senior editor at American Banker overseeing its consumer finance and national/regional banking coverage. He also helps direct coverage of the annual Most Powerful Women in Banking rankings.