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People's United Financial Profit Rises - Update

People's United Financial Inc. (PBCT) Thursday reported a higher fourth-quarter profit, helped by an increase in non interest income and lower loan-loss provisions and other expenses. However, results were partly offset by declines in both in net interest income and net interest margin.

"The company's performance in the fourth quarter reflects our continued focus on operating leverage through increased fee-based income and ongoing expense control to mitigate the negative impact of this prolonged low interest rate environment," said Chief Financial Officer Kirk Walters.

People's United reported fourth-quarter net income of $61 million or $0.18 per share, compared with $41 million or $0.12 per share last year.

On average, 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.19 per share for the quarter.

Excluding items, the company reported operating earnings for the quarter of $63 million or $0.19 per share, compared with $57 million or $0.17 per share in the prior year.

Net-interest income for the quarter totaled $225 million, down from $239.6 million last year, and net interest margin fell to 3.63 percent from 4.12 percent. Non-interest income meanwhile increased to $84 million from $71.7 million last year.

Analylsts estimated revenues of $314.25 million.

The company benefited from a decline in provision for loan losses to $12 million from $20.7 million in the prior year, and net loan charge-offs fell to $10 million from $14.8 million.

Also, non interest expense for the quarter was lower at $207 million, compared with $230 million a year ago.

"Our performance throughout 2012 continues to build on the execution of our primary objectives - optimizing existing businesses and efficiently deploying capital," said CEO Jack Barnes.

"Our financial results in 2012 reflect stable operating metrics in a challenging economic environment, supported by solid loan and deposit growth, strength in our fee income businesses and meaningful cost control," added Barnes.

At the end of the quarter, the company had total earning assets of $25 billion, compared with $23.5 billion last year. Deposits stood at $21.6 billion, compared with $20.6 billion in the prior year.

During the quarter, the company repurchased 4.7 million of its common shares for a total of $56 million.

The company has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share, payable on February 15 to shareholders of record on February 1. The company has 33.4 million shares of common stock remain available for repurchase under a program announced in November.

PBCT closed Thursday at $12.71, up 0.55%, on a volume of 1.8 million shares on the Nasdaq.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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