New York Community Bancorp in Westbury, N.Y., reported higher quarterly profit that reflected a benefit tied to tax reform.

The $49.1 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 20% from a year earlier, to $136.5 million, or 26 cents a share. The results included a one-time benefit of $42 million tied to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Without the tax benefit, New York Community Bank’s earnings would have fallen nearly 17%.

The company has been actively curbing its growth to stay below the $50 billion-asset threshold that would make it a systemically important financial institution.

"Astoria was always a great deal," New York Community CEO Joseph Ficalora said, adding that it was just taking too long to get the deal completed.
New York Community, led by CEO Joseph Ficalora, reported lower core earnings that reflected its exit from mortgage lending.

Net interest income fell by 14% to $271 million, largely because of the company's higher cost of funds. Total loans fell 3% to $38.3 billion; the net interest margin narrowed by 38 basis points to 2.48%.

The loan-loss provision on non-covered loans fell by nearly 44%, to $2.9 million. Nonperforming assets rose 32% to $90.1 million.

Net chargeoffs fell to $3.8 million.

Noninterest income decreased by 22% to $25.3 million. The company exited the residential wholesale mortgage banking business when it sold its covered loans and mortgage banking operations in the third quarter for $82 million.

The company reported no mortgage-related revenue in the fourth quarter. It posted $3.3 million in mortgage banking revenue a year earlier.

Noninterest expense fell by 13% to $148.5 million, mostly due to lower compensation and benefits expense. Lower general and administrative expenses also contributed.

“We continue to lend prudently and conservatively as reflected again by our asset quality metrics, which continue to be solid,” Joseph Ficalora, the company's president and CEO, said in the release.

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