Zions Bancorp. in Salt Lake City met an efficiency goal it set more than two years ago.

The $66 billion-asset company vowed in June 2015 to lower its efficiency ratio to the low 60% range for 2017. In the fourth quarter, the efficiency ratio was 61.6%, down from more than 64% a year earlier.

Zions Chairman and CEO Harris H. Simmons
“We remain focused on building a culture of continuous improvement and operational excellence," Harris Simmons, Zions' chairman and CEO, said after reporting fourth-quarter results.

“We are pleased to have achieved each of the financial goals we established in mid-2015, and we remain focused on building a culture of continuous improvement and operational excellence that will allow us to continue to produce profitable growth in the years ahead,” Harris Simmons, Zions’s chairman and CEO, said in a press release announcing the company's fourth-quarter earnings.

Net income fell 9% from a year earlier, to $114 million. The decline was tied to a $47 million charge related to the revaluation of its deferred tax asset and a $12 million charitable contribution associated with tax reform.

Noninterest expense rose 3% to $417 million. Salaries and employee benefits increased by 5%, to $254 million, because of higher incentive compensation, base salaries and a profit sharing contribution to Zions' retirement plan.

Net interest income rose by 10% to $526 million. Loans held for investment increased by roughly 5% to $44.8 billion. Commercial-and-industrial loans rose by 4%, to $14 billion, while commercial real estate credits fell by 2%, to $11.1 billion.

The net interest margin expanded by 8 basis points, to 3.45%.

Noninterest income rose by 9%, to $139 million, as customer-related fees increased by 8%, to $127 million, and dividends and other investment income more than doubled, to $10 million.

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