M&T Bank in Buffalo reported an increase in its first-quarter profit on the strength of higher mortgage banking revenue, but its results fell well short of analysts’ estimates as loan growth failed to meet expectations.   

The $98.4 billion-asset company earned $241.6 million during the first quarter, up roughly 6% over the same period in 2014. However, earnings per share of $1.65 came in 9 cents below the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

A 5% rise in noninterest income, to $440 million, helped to push the overall growth in revenue. Much of this increase came from a spike in mortgage banking revenues, which increased 27%, to $101.6 million, year over year.

Net interest income rose just 0.5% year-over-year, to $659.6 million, while the net interest margin fell to 35 basis points, to 3.17%. Despite the rise in fee and net interest income, the results fell short of predictions from analysts at Morgan Stanley, who were expecting more robust loan growth.

“To be fair, we can understand a certain level of volatility – it does happen, particularly at some of the larger, more complex banks,” the analysts said in a note. “But rarely do we see volatility go against a company in every major line item.”

Noninterest expenses dropped about 1%, to $686 million. A 5% jump in salaries and employee benefits was counterweighed by decreases in the costs of equipment, net occupancy and supplies. Additionally, M&T said it adopted guidance from the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which removed the costs related to qualified affordable housing projects from this category and added the amortization of the investments to income tax expenses.

The company made no reference to its long-planned merger with Hudson City Bancorp in Paramus, N.J. The Federal Reserve Board once again neglected to act on the deal earlier in April, causing Hudson City to reconsider its stance on the plans. Ultimately, Hudson City chose to plow ahead, with the two banks extending the termination date to October.

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