Valley National Bancorp announced Thursday that it is slowing de novo branch expansion in New Jersey and New York as it sees the opportunity to expand through acquisition.

The Wayne, N.J., company announced the shift in focus as it reported earnings of $32.1 million in the fourth quarter, up 90% from a year earlier. For 2009, the $14.3 billion-asset company reported net income of $116.1 million, up 24% from 2008.

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