SPOKANE, Wash.– Sterling Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: STSA), the Spokane Washington-based parent company of Sonoma Bank, today announced net income of $13.3 million for first quarter of 2012.

Those earnings equaled 21 cents per diluted common share for the first three months in 2012, compared to $5.4 million in net income, equaling 9 cents per common share, for the same quarter in 2011.

Net income for the quarter included expenses related to the acquisition of Vancouver, Washington-based First Independent Bank, which added 14 branches, $350.1 million in loans and $695.9 million in deposits to the bank’s balance sheet.

The company highlighted several achievements for the quarter, including an increase of their net interest margin to 3.38 percent, up from 3.26 at the end of 2011 and 3.22 percent in the comparable quarter one year ago. Loan originations increased 31 percent over the same period in 2011, with $347.5 million for the first quarter of 2012. The tier one leverage ratio reached 11.1 percent as of March 31, compared to 10.6 percent at the same point during the prior year.

The total loan balance of the bank exceeded $6 billion at the end of the quarter, up nearly $500 million from the prior quarter. Total assets of the 189-branch company were $9.5 billion as of March 31, compared to $9.19 billion at the end of 2011.

The company’s provision for loan losses remained at $4 million versus the prior quarter, compared to $10 million one year ago.

“We had another quarter of reduced deposit costs (partly attributable to the First Independent transaction), robust portfolio loan originations and continued improvement of our asset quality metrics,” said Greg Seibly, president and CEO of Sterling, in a written release. “We also took meaningful steps to better position the company from an efficiency perspective, which we expect will contribute to improved earnings going forward.”

Sterling Financial Corporation recently unveiled a company-wide rebranding, which brought Sonoma Bank and the rest of the company's subsidiaries under the same logo. It was announced in March that Sonoma Bank's chief production officer Deborah Meekins will now serve as executive vice president and California market president for the company.