M&T Bank (MTB) profits shrank by 28% in the fourth quarter due to merger costs, but the regional lender posted-stronger-than-expected revenue growth on Tuesday.

Buffalo-based M&T said it earned $147.7 million, or $1.04 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $204.4 million, or $1.59 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items such as merger costs tied to its takeover of Wilmington Trust, it earned $1.20 a share. Analysts had been calling for EPS of $1.46, but it’s not clear if that estimate is comparable with the non-GAAP EPS.

Revenue jumped 18% to $1.02 billion, surpassing the Street’s view of $992 million.

“We were quite pleased with our operating performance during the quarter, most notably the significant loan growth we experienced in our commercial portfolios,” Rene Jones, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a statement.

Like many banks, M&T benefited from improving credit conditions. The lender said its credit-loss provisions slipped to $74 million from $85 million the year before, but were up from $58 million at the end of the third quarter.

M&T said its average loans climbed by an annualized 6% from the third quarter and its total loans jumped by $1.7 billion.

Shares of M&T slumped 3.56% to $79.41 Tuesday morning, eating into its 2012 rally of nearly 8%.

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