Modest loan growth, lower expenses and a sharp decrease in problem loans powered United Community Banks in Blairsville, Ga., to a $16.4 million profit in the second quarter.

Earnings were up 9.3% from the prior quarter, but were down from the second quarter of last year, when results were boosted by a substantial one-time tax gain. Its earnings per share of 27 cents met the expectations of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

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