PNC posts higher profits in first quarter

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PNC Financial Services Group Wednesday reported earnings of $992 million in the first quarter, up 7 percent from $928 million a year earlier as the region’s biggest bank set aside less money to cover bad loans and expenses fell.

Per-share profits rose 6 percent to $1.82 from $1.74.

Revenue for the three months ended March 31 dropped 5 percent to $3.78 billion from $3.96 billion as net interest income, essentially profit on loans, slid 8 percent from a year ago. PNC, like other big banks, has been struggling to grow revenue in the face of low interest rates and weakening demand for home loans.

“PNC had a successful quarter,” CEO William Demchak said in a statement. “We grew loans and deposits, and we lowered expenses even as we continue to make investments across our businesses.”

The provision for credit losses in the first quarter was $94 million, down from $113 million in the fourth quarter and $236 million in the first quarter of 2013.

PNC, which slashed expenses by some $775 million last year, was on target to meet its goal of cutting another $500 million in costs this year, Chief Financial Officer Robert Q. Reilly told analysts in a conference call.

Mr. Demchak said PNC would continue to fine tune a model for a scaled-down, full-service bank branch of the future as customers find fewer reasons to bank in person.

PNC also will have more technology-heavy offices with fewer, if any, employees, he said.

PNC shares added $2.23, or 2.71 percent, Wednesday to close at $84.38.

Patricia Sabatini: or 412-263-3066.

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