Valley National Bancorp (VLY) of Wayne, N.J., reported net income Thursday of $39.6 million for the fourth quarter, a 7.6% increase from a year earlier.

At 20 cents per share, the $16.1 billion-asset Valley National beat the average estimates of analysts polled by Bloomberg by about two cents. Valley National was aided by loan growth of 5% as total loans rose to $11.6 billion.

Net interest income totaled $116.1 million, a 2% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2012, yet was up 4% from the third quarter of 2013.

"Our net interest income continued to expand for the second consecutive quarter largely due to strong commercial real estate loan growth, as well as better performance within our investment securities portfolio," Valley National Chief Executive Gerald Lipkin said in a press release. "The commercial real estate loan pipeline in the early stages of 2014 has remained solid and we expect it will be a standout again next quarter."

Noninterest income was $42.1 million in the fourth quarter, a 24.6% increase from a year earlier. Noninterest expense was $96.1 million, an increase of 0.5%.

The net interest margin tightened 14 basis points to 3.27%.

Valley National's provision for credit losses jumped 23%. Net loan charge-offs increased to $5.4 million from $4.3 million.

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