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Sterling National Fights the Banking Trend

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- John Millman, the president and CEO of Sterling National Bank -- the main subsidiary of Sterling Bancorp (STL - Get Report) of New York -- says the bank is "willing to go countertrend," and has achieved success by focusing on "niches that other banks may not be competing in."

Sterling Bancorp on Tuesday reported second-quarter net income available to common shareholders of $4.9 million, or 16 cents a share, increasing from $4.6 million, or 15 cents a share, in the first quarter, and nearly doubling from $2.5 million, or eight cents a share, during in the second quarter of 2011.

Sterling's second-quarter net interest income increased to $22.9 million, from $22.4 million the previous quarter, and $21.4 million a year earlier, which "primarily reflected the Company's execution of its strategy to shift the asset mix toward higher loan balances and lower investment securities balances, with a resulting increase in yields, while also taking a disciplined approach to reducing funding costs."

The company's second-quarter net interest margin -- the spread between the average yield on loans and securities and its average cost for deposits and borrowings -- was 4.04%, narrowing slightly from 4.07% in the first quarter, but improving from 3.90% in the second quarter of 2011, running counter to the trend for most U.S. banks, as short-term rates remain near zero while long-term rates continue to decline.

Noninterest income during the second quarter totaled $10.7 million, increasing from $10.4 million the previous quarter and also during the prior-year quarter. The sequential improvement reflected increases in revenue from accounts receivable management, factoring commissions and other fees, as well as an increase in service charges on deposit accounts and income from life insurance policies, which more than offset a decline in gains on securities to $329,000 during the second quarter, from $879,000 in the first quarter.

The year-over-year improvement mainly reflected an increase in mortgage banking income to $2.4 million from $1.6 million, as well as a 13% increase in deposit account service charges, to $1.6 million, greatly offsetting a 12% year-over-year decline in revenue from accounts receivable management, factoring commissions and other fees, to $5.1 million.

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