More fee income and a better credit picture propelled Susquehanna Bancshares (SUSQ) in Lititz, Pa., in the second quarter.

Earnings at the $18.1 billion-asset company rose 21% from a year earlier, to $45.6 million, the company announced Wednesday. Earnings per share of 24 cents beat the average estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 1 cent.

Net interest income fell 3% from the second quarter of 2012, to $148 million, primarily because the net interest margin decreased by 22 basis points, to 3.88%. Susquehanna's loan book grew 5%, to $13.2 billion.

Noninterest income rose 23%, to $49.1 million, as revenue from service charges and commissions increased. Noninterest expense remained nearly unchanged, at $120 million.

Credit quality improved, as the provision for loan losses fell 25%, to $12 million. Net charge-offs decreased by 51%, to $9.8 million.

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