Susquehanna Bancshares (SUSQ) in Lititz, Pa., reported a profit of $41.3 million in the fourth quarter, down 4.4% from a year earlier.

However, with earnings per share of 22 cents, the $18.5 billion-asset company beat the estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by four cents.

A few weeks ago Susquehanna announced that it had sold 30 branches to a SunTrust Banks (STI) subsidiary. Susquehanna also agreed to lease the branches back. The aggregate sale price was $57.1 million, and the proceeds received were $54.2 million after closing costs and prepaid rent, the company said in its earnings release Wednesday.

Net interest income for the fourth quarter was $142.7 million, an 8.1% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2012. Noninterest income increased 15.7%, to $50.7 million. Noninterest expense jumped 8.3%, to $135.7 million.

Net interest margin fell 46 basis points from a year earlier,  to 3.60%. Provision for loan and lease losses dropped 84.6%, to $2 million. Net chargeoffs decreased by30%.

Last week Susquehanna announced several executive changes including naming Andrew Samuel chairman to go along with his roles as president and chief executive. The bank also promoted Michael Harrington to chief financial officer.

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