Webster Financial (NYSE: WBS), the holding company for Webster Bank, reported fourth quarter earnings that again topped analyst expectations as the company's provision for loan losses fell 78%.
For the three months ending December 31, 2010, the company posted net income available to common shareholders of $25.0 million, or $0.30 per share, compared with a loss of $54.4 million, or $0.84 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts expected earnings of $0.20 per share.
"The growth in loans in the quarter, most particularly middle market and commercial real estate originations, is a positive sign of quality financing opportunities in our core lines of business, and reflects a gradually improving regional economy," said chairman and CEO James C. Smith.
For the quarter, total non-performing loans were $273.6 million, or 2.48% of total loans, compared to $373.0 million in the year earlier period and $311.1 million in the third quarter.
Past due loans for the continuing portfolios decreased to $67.4 million at December 31 from $90.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Provision for loan losses was $15.0 million, compared to $67.0 million in the year-ago period.
The New England company's Tier 1 ratio increased to 9.87% from 7.86% in the same period last year.
With $18.0 billion in assets, Webster provides business and consumer banking, mortgage, financial planning, trust and investment services. The company rose more than 6% on Friday morning, to trade at $20.95 as of 10:58am EST.