Sometimes you have to spend more to make more, and our annual ranking of publicly traded banks and thrifts with less than $2 billion of assets illustrates this point.

Though cost cuts have been a focus across the industry for years, noninterest expenses for this group of community banks continued to rise in 2014, according to Capital Performance Group's analysis. This might be a worrisome trend, if the extra spending had not been offset by extra income.

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