UMB Financial in Kansas City, Mo., reported lower quarterly profits after taking a loss on certain alternative investments.

The $17.5 billion-asset company reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell 22% from a year earlier, to $26.9 million. Earnings of 59 cents a share were 17 cents below the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

The results come as UMB prepares to buy the $1.2 billion-asset Marquette Financial in Minneapolis. That deal, expected to close mid-year, would provide the company with branches in Arizona and Texas.

A sharp drop in equity earnings drove the quarter's decline. Noninterest income plunged 15%, to $115.2 million, mostly because of alternative investments associated with Prairie Capital Management, a wealth management firm UMB bought in 2010.

UMB took a $4.5 million hit on its alternative investments, after earning $15.1 million a year earlier.

Net interest income rose 6%, to $90.9 million. Total loans rose 15%, to $7.5 billion, and the net interest margin widened by 1 basis point, to 2.52%.

Noninterest expenses dipped 2%, to $166.7 million.

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