UMB Financial in Kansas City, Mo., reported higher quarterly profit on strong commercial lending.

The $16.3 billion-asset company's earnings rose 3% from a year earlier, to $35.6 million. Earnings per share of 78 cents beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 2 cents.

Loan growth drove the results. Net interest income rose 2%, to $87.5 million. Total loans grew 9%, to $7.1 billion, as the bank focused on commercial lending production. The net interest margin compressed by 8 basis points, to 2.53%.

"Our strategy to shift our earning asset mix to loans remains a top priority," Mariner Kemper, UMB's chairman and chief executive, said in a press release Wednesday.

Asset quality improved, as the company slashed its loan-loss provision by 31%, to $4.5 million.

Higher fee-based income also contributed to the higher earnings. Noninterest income increased 4%, to $126.5 million, from higher trust and securities revenue.

Operating expenses rose 5%, to $161.5 million.

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