ISELIN, N.J., April 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Provident Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE:PFS) (the "Company") reported net income of $17.8 million, or $0.31 per basic and diluted share for the three months ended March 31, 2013, compared to net income of $18.4 million, or $0.32 per basic and diluted share for the three months ended March 31, 2012. Earnings for the first quarter of 2013 were aided by improvements in asset quality and a related reduction in the provision for loan losses compared with the same period last year, while growth in both average loans outstanding and average lower-costing core deposits have helped offset the adverse impact of the prolonged low interest rate environment. Christopher Martin, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "Our first quarter earnings reflect continued solid performance, despite a tepid recovery in the economy and an ultra-competitive environment. Earnings benefitted from margin expansion from the trailing quarter and stable credit quality. With our market providing limited business lending opportunities, we maintained our conservative credit discipline and concentrated on relationship expansion. Expense management remains a key focus as we continue to seek out additional efficiencies within our operations." Balance Sheet Summary Total assets decreased $96.9 million, or 1.3%, to $7.19 billion at March 31, 2013, from $7.28 billion at December 31, 2012, primarily due to decreases in total investments and cash and cash equivalents, partially offset by an increase in total loans. Total investments decreased $62.1 million, or 3.7%, to $1.60 billion at March 31, 2013, from $1.66 billion at December 31, 2012, largely due to principal repayments on mortgage-backed securities, maturities of municipal and agency bonds, and the sale of certain mortgage-backed securities which had a heightened risk of prepayment, partially offset by purchases of mortgage-backed and municipal securities. Cash and cash equivalents decreased $39.1 million to $64.7 million at March 31, 2013, from $103.8 million at December 31, 2012. The decline in cash was attributable to a decrease in total deposits and an increase in total loans, partially offset by a decrease in total investments.