MIDLAND, Mich., April 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chemical Financial Corporation (Nasdaq:CHFC) today announced 2014 first quarter net income of $13.8 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, compared to 2013first quarter net income of $13.2 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, and 2013 fourth quarter net income of $14.4 million, or $0.48 per diluted share. The decline in per share earnings from the prior year's first quarter was primarily attributable to the higher number of outstanding shares in this year's first quarter due to Chemical Financial Corporation's ("Corporation") September 2013 follow-on common equity offering. "Chemical Financial Corporation enjoyed another solid quarter of earnings as increasing net interest income and a lower loan loss provision more than offset lower noninterest income. The decline in noninterest income was largely attributable to lower mortgage banking revenue, lower gains on securities sales, and lower customer-related service fees, as an exceptionally cold and snowy winter across Michigan impacted consumer behavior during the quarter. Despite the unusual weather, we sustained our recent pattern of organic loan growth, with total loans up 2.3% during the quarter and 13.6% over the past year," noted David B. Ramaker, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Chemical Financial Corporation. "Importantly, during the quarter, we continued to advance our strategic growth initiative with the March 2014 announcement of our partnership with Northwestern Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Northwestern Bank. We view Northwestern, with its 25 locations across 11 northwestern Michigan counties and $758 million in deposits, as the premier northwestern Michigan community banking franchise, and believe the combination of these two community-driven, Michigan-focused institutions will provide a compelling choice for the state's residents and businesses. We remain confident in our ability to achieve additional competitive and acquisitive market share gains as we move forward," added Ramaker. Net income in the first quarter of 2014 was $0.6 million, or 4.4%, higher than the first quarter of 2013, with the increase attributable to a combination of higher net interest income and a lower provision for loan losses, both of which were partially offset by lower noninterest income and slightly higher operating expenses. Net income of $13.8 million in the first quarter of 2014 was $0.6 million, or 3.9%, lower than the fourth quarter of 2013, with the decrease primarily attributable to lower net interest income.