United Community Banks in Blairsville, Ga., reported higher quarterly earnings despite costs tied to its purchase of Palmetto Bancshares in South Carolina.

The $9.4 billion-asset company said in a press release that its third-quarter profit increased nearly 9% from a quarter earlier, to $21.7 million, or 27 cents a share. In addition to Palmetto, United completed its purchase of First National Bank in May, furthering skewing year-over-year comparisons.

Net interest income rose 7% from the second quarter, to $65.7 million. Total loans increased 16%, to $6 billion.

"Total loan production remained strong in the third quarter, though net loan growth tapered off a bit due to a higher level of paydowns," Jimmy Tallent, United's chairman and chief executive, said in the release. "Year-to-date, excluding loans from mergers, loan growth is $310 million, or 9% annualized, which is on track for our 2015 goal of mid- to upper-single-digit loan growth."

The net interest margin compressed by 4 basis points from the second quarter, to 3.26%.

Fee income increased 6%, to $18.3 million, mostly because of higher deposit service charges and mortgage fees tied to Palmetto.

Noninterest expenses rose by 7.3%, to $48.5 million, including about $5.7 million in merger-related charges.

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