Fewer pretax charges lifted United Bankshares (UBSI) in the fourth quarter.

Earnings at the $8.4 billion-asset company rose 5% from a year earlier to $21.2 million. Earnings of 42 cents a share were 1 cent below analysts' average estimate, according to Bloomberg.

United Bankshares, in Charleston, W. Va., released its quarterly results Tuesday, a day before announcing a $491 million deal for Virginia Commerce Bancorp (VCBI) in Arlington, Va.

Noninterest income rose 40.3%, to $16.7 million, as result of fewer losses tied to special charges. A year earlier United Bankshares recorded a charge of $6.2 million for "other-than-temporary impairment" losses.

But net interest income fell 3% from the fourth quarter of 2011, to $71.3 million, because of declining yields. Net interest margin narrowed five basis points, to 3.83%.

Noninterest expense fell roughly 2%, to $49.3 million. The company's efficiency ratio worsened to 52.01% from 51.47% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

United Bankshares' loan book increased 3.2%, to $6.5 billion, year over year. The allowance for loan losses remained roughly unchanged, at $73.7 million.

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