United Bankshares (UBSI) in Charleston, W.Va., saw earnings fall as fee income took a dive last quarter.

The company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $19.7 million, a decline of 7.1% from a year earlier.

With earnings per share of 39 cents, the $8.6 billion-asset company missed estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by about five cents. A nearly 30% drop in noninterest income, to $12 million, hurt the bottom line.

Tax-equivalent net interest income was $70.7 million, a decrease of less than 1% from the fourth quarter of 2012. The culprit was average yield on earning assets, which fell 27 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net interest margin fell 17 basis points, to 3.66%.

Provision for loan losses decreased by 27.1%, to $4.3 million. Net chargeoffs fell 19%, to $4.7 million.

Noninterest expense decreased 3%, to $48 million.

Late last year the Federal Reserve Board approved a merger between United and the $2.8 billion-asset Virginia Commerce Bancorp (VCBI) in Arlington.

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