MIDLAND, Mich., April 15, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chemical Financial Corporation (Nasdaq:CHFC) today announced 2013 first quarter net income of $13.2 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, compared to 2012 fourth quarter net income of $11.7 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, and 2012 first quarter net income of $12.4 million, or $0.45 per diluted share. "Despite economic conditions that can best be described as tepid, we continue to post strong earnings growth as a result of the combination of lower credit-related costs and higher organic balance sheet growth," noted David B. Ramaker, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Corporation. "While asset quality and loan loss metric improvements are expected to continue, we will increasingly look to the combination of asset growth and cost controls to drive future earnings growth. We are confident that our community-focused, relationship-oriented approach and strong financial condition will continue to make Chemical Bank the financial institution of choice for the businesses and residents in the Michigan markets we serve." Net income of $13.2 million in the first quarter of 2013 was $1.5 million, or 13.5%, higher than the fourth quarter of 2012 largely due to a $2.0 million reduction in the provision for loan losses, which was driven by the continued improvement in the credit quality of the loan portfolio. Noninterest income increased in the first quarter of 2013 over the fourth quarter of 2012. Operating expenses were the same in both quarters. Higher operating expenses in the first quarter of 2013, largely attributable to the 21 branch banking offices acquired in December 2012 (branch acquisition transaction), were offset by lower performance-based compensation expense and the absence of acquisition-related expenses ($1.8 million incurred in the fourth quarter of 2012). Net income in the first quarter of 2013 was $0.8 million, or 7.0%, higher than the first quarter of 2012, largely due to a reduction in the provision for loan losses of $2.0 million. The Corporation also recognized an increase of $1.5 million in net interest income and significant growth in noninterest income in the first quarter of 2013 over the first quarter of 2012. These increases were offset by higher operating costs in the first quarter of 2013, largely attributable to the branch acquisition transaction.