Sterling Bancorp (STL) reported earnings rose about 40% in the first quarter on growth in loans and deposits, a higher net interest margin and expense control.

New York-based Sterling reported earnings of $4.6 million, or 15 cents a share, up from $3.3 million or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. The holding company is the parent of Sterling National Bank.

The numbers met the 15 cents a share predicted by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Total noninterest income was $10.4 million for the 2012 first quarter, up from $11 million in the year-ago period.

Sterling said the boost represents an increase in residential mortgage banking income principally due to increased volume of loan sales, which partially offset decreases in accounts receivable management and other related fees and lower securities gains.

Mortgage banking income was $2.34 million in the quarter, up from $2.18 million in the comparable period last year.

Noninterest income continued to be a significant contributor to Sterling's financial performance, at approximately 29% of total revenue.

Loans in portfolio rose 13%, approaching $1.5 billion and continuing the double-digit growth trend from the last quarter of 2011.

Total deposits were up 15%, approaching $2 billion. Total assets increased more than 4%, approaching $2.5 billion.

The ratio of nonperforming assets to total assets was 0.32%, up from 0.30% in 1Q2011.