United Community Financial Corp. in Youngstown, Ohio reported a fourth-quarter profit of $7.9 million, compared with a loss of $17.3 million a year earlier, after selling four branches.

The $2 billion-asset company also said late Thursday that it turned an annual profit for the first time since 2007, earning $230,000 for 2011. The company lost $37.3 million in 2010.

The company's fourth-quarter noninterest income rose almost 85% from a year earlier, to $12 million, largely because of a $4.2 million gain from selling branches in northwestern Ohio. The bank also reported a $5.1 million gain from selling securities during the quarter.

United Community's fourth-quarter loan-loss provision plunged almost 90% from a year earlier, to $2.4 million. This decline was related to a reduced level of outstanding loans and a lower level of chargeoffs. The decline in average loans also hit the company's net interest income, which declined roughly 12% from a year earlier, to $14.8 million.

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