Regions Bank (RF) returned to a profit in the first quarter of 2012 from the fourth quarter after benefiting from the sale of a major affiliate and reaping the benefits of stronger performing loans and growth in mortgage income.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based bank reported a profit of $145 million, or 11 cents a share for the first quarter, up from a $17 million profit, or 1 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

The company noted that noninterest revenue from continuing operations hit $524 million in the first quarter, which grew 3% from the previous quarter.

During the fourth quarter of 2011, the bank posted a loss of $602 million, but has since recovered after reporting growth in mortgage income and $1.2 billion in proceeds from the company's sale of its investment banking firm Morgan, Keegan & Co.

The company also repurchased $3.5 billion shares of series A preferred stock issued to the U.S. Treasury on April 4, positively impacting first-quarter results. 

The value of nonperforming loans fell 9% or $221 million from the previous quarter, and inflows on non-performing loans fell 32% to $381 million, compared to $561 million in the fourth quarter. 

Net charge-offs declined 23% from the fourth quarter of 2011 to $98 million. 

The company experienced a 2.3% uptick in loan growth in the middle-market commercial and industrial portfolio lending areas, while consumer loan activity fell 1.8% between the fourth and first quarters.