Washington Federal Inc. in Seattle said Thursday that fourth-quarter net income more than tripled to $24.5 million from $7.9 million a year earlier.

The improved earnings at the $13.4 billion-asset company were mostly because of a 56% decrease in its loan-loss provision and other real estate owned, to $36.6 million. Nonperforming assets rose $8 million from the third quarter, but fell $110 million from a year earlier, to $443 million, or 3.3% of total assets.

Roy Whitehead, Washington Federal's chairman, president and chief executive, said in a press release that the quarter included a "modest increase in the percentage of mortgage loans that were delinquent."

Whitehead also said that Washington Federal seems "well positioned to absorb" credit losses, which are expected to "continue at an elevated level."

Washington Federal had a tangible common equity ratio of 12.01% at Dec. 31.

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