M&T Bank's ( MTB) second-quarter earnings rose 8% from a year ago, beating analysts earnings estimates despite a slight decline in net interest income.

M&T earned $212.5 million, or $1.87 a share, in the quarter, compared with $196.8 million, or $1.73 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts had been forecasting net earnings of $1.82 per share in the last quarter, according to Thomson Financial.

Net interest income, the bank's biggest money maker, was $446.6 million, down slightly from $447.5 million in the prior year. Noninterest income rose 7%, to $263 million from $245 in the same quarter last year.

Meanwhile, the credit quality at the bank improved. Net charge-offs of loans were $10 million during the second quarter of 2006, compared with $14 million in the second quarter last year. The provision for loan losses was $17 million in the second quarter, down from $19 million from the same period last year. The allowance for credit losses was $646 million, or 1.55% of total loans, compared with $637 million, or 1.60%, in the second quarter last year.

"Our results for the quarter reflect many of M&T's traditional strengths. Continued attention to efficiency and the benefits of our consistent credit standards led to double-digit growth in M&T's diluted earnings per share," said M&T.

Also during the first quarter, the company bought 21 branches in upstate New York from Citigroup ( C), the nation's largest bank. Most of the branches are located in Buffalo and Rochester. The company purchased the branches in late April, and M&T said last week that the deal brought in approximately $1 billion in new deposits and $269 million in new loan balances. The transaction had no effect on day-to-day operating results in the second quarter, the company said. However, M&T recorded expenses of $2 million, or 2 cents a share, associated with integrating systems.

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