Revenue grew 11%, including a 15% increase in net interest income, which benefited from higher interest rates as we prudently managed loan and deposit pricing.
In addition, successful execution of its GEAR Up initiative helped increase fee income 5% and lowered expenses 4%. The company continued to adeptly navigate the energy cycle, and credit quality remained strong. Altogether, this drove an 84% increase in pre-tax income.
Average total loans increased $270 million, or 1%, to $48.9 billion, which primarily reflected increases in National Dealer Services, Corporate Banking and Technology and Life Sciences, partially offset by decreases in general Middle Market, Energy and Mortgage Banker Finance.
Meanwhile, the company reported fourth quarter NIM of 3.28% versus 3.29% last quarter.
The company's credit quality remained strong in the fourth quarter and it continues to see positive trends, particularly in the Energy portfolio. Total criticized loans, nonaccrual loans, and charge-offs decreased. The company also notes that it has maintained a conservative stance regarding economic and market conditions. Net credit-related charge-offs were $16 million, or 0.13% of average loans, compared to $25 million, or 0.21%, in the third quarter 2017, remaining below historical levels.
Looking ahead to its fiscal year 2018...
The company sees average loans higher in the year, in-line with Gross Domestic Product, reflecting increases in most lines of business while remaining stable in Energy and Corporate Banking.
Net interest income higher, reflecting full-year benefits from the 2017 rate increases and loan growth. Provision for credit losses of 15 basis points to 25 basis points and net charge-offs to remain low, with continued solid performance of the overall portfolio.
The full-year impact of the 2017 rate increases should help drive further revenue growth. Also, the company expects to benefit from the lower tax rate, and it is well positioned to take advantage of additional interest rate increases, favorable changes in regulation and economic growth.
This forecast assumes a continuation of the current economic and low rate environment as well as approximately $270 million of benefits from the GEAR UP initiative.
In current trade, shares of CMA are 2% higher, just below $95/share after pullback from its high for the day.