Univest Corp. of Pennsylvania (UVSP) in Souderton reported lower fourth-quarter profit after an acquisition led to higher expenses.

The $2.2 billion-asset company announced Wednesday that it earned $4.9 million, down roughly 3% from a year earlier. Earnings per share totaled 30 cents, missing estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by four cents.

Fourth-quarter noninterest expense rose about 10%, to $21.6 million, from a year earlier, because of increased salary and benefit costs related to the purchase of John T. Fretz Insurance Agency in May.

Univest's loans increased 4% from a year ago, spurred by commercial and residential real estate loans and equipment financing. The company's net interest income remained stable from a year earlier at $18.1 million, while noninterest income increased 7%, to $11.1 million. Insurance commission and fees jumped 15%, to $2.4 million, year over year.

The provision for loan and lease losses totaled $1.6 million, down more than 32% from a year earlier. Net loan and lease chargeoffs were down 57%, to $2 million, from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Univest's net interest margin increased two basis points, to 3.82%, from a year earlier. The company's fourth-quarter rate on interest-bearing liabilities fell 17 basis points from a year earlier, because Univest redeemed its trust-preferred securities and terminated the related interest rate swap in the second quarter.

Univest had a change in management at the beginning of the year. The company's president, Jeffery Schweitzer, took over as chief executive after William Aichele retired from the position. Aichele remains chairman.

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