At this time, I'll turn the call over to Dick.
Thank you, Greg. Good morning and thanks for joining us. It’s my pleasure today to review Cullen/Frost’s 2011 fourth quarter and annual results. Our Chief Financial Officer, Phil Green, will then provide additional comments. And after that, we both will be happy to answer your questions.
I am pleased to report that 2011 Cullen/Frost posted record annual earnings and topped $20 billion in assets for the first time in the company history. We also saw the best quarterly credit quality improvement in the past two years. The strong and consistent results amid continued economic challenges and regulatory headwinds are a credit to our dedicated employees and strong value proposition.
During the fourth quarter, our net income was $55.4 million compared to $53.1 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2010. That was $0.90 a share versus $0.87 last year. Fourth quarter return on average assets and equity were 1.12% and 9.74% respectively. The company reported annual earnings for 2011 of $217.5 million, an increase of 4.2% over the 2010 earnings of $208.8 million.
Now let’s look at deposits which continued to be strong. For the year ended December 31, 2011 average total deposits were $15.2 billion, up 8.4% or $1.2 billion over the $14 billion reported in 2010. Much of our deposit growth comes from new relationships developed with business customers through our focused calling effort. These new relationships will help form the foundation for future growth when the economy eventually improves. We saw a good growth both in new consumer relationships and from existing customers.
Net interest income for the fourth quarter of 2011 was $165.3 million compared to $155.2 million last year. This increase primarily resulted from an increase in average volume of interest earning assets and was partly offset by a decrease in the net interest margin. Strong growth in deposits helped to fund the increase in the volume of earning assets.