Wintrust Financial Corp. in Lake Forest, Ill., said Monday that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 50% from a year earlier, to $14.2 million.

The $14 billion-asset company attributed the decrease to its repurchase of $250 million in preferred stock issued to the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The company raised $327.5 million in capital in the fourth quarter to help repay its Tarp funding. This, together with a March 2010 capital raise, boosted its total risk-based capital ratio to 13.9% at Dec. 31.

Nonperforming loans rose 7.5% in the quarter, compared to a year earlier, to $141.3 million, or 1.48% of total loans. Wintrust took a $28.8 million loan-loss provision and charged off $23.5 million in problem loans during the quarter.

The net interest margin expanded 36 basis points from a year earlier, to 3.37%, largely due to lower pricing for retail deposits and lower wholesale funding costs, the company said.

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