The nation’s largest credit unions had a strong increase in third-quarter net income with higher margins from interest and lower provisions for losses.

A CU Times analysis of the latest NCUA call reports shows the top ranked credit unions generated $778.1 million in net income in the three months that ended Sept. 30—20.1% more than they earned in 2017’s third quarter.

One of the strongest gains came from net interest income before subtracting loan loss provisions. This measure rose 14.7% to $2.2 billion, while loan loss provisions fell 3.8% to $475.4 million.

Those factors outweighed higher operating expenses. Operating expenses as a percent of average assets was 5.9% for the third quarter—an increase of 336 basis points and matching the gross income rate, which rose only 46 basis points from a year earlier.

Larger credit unions tend to have healthier margins and faster growth than smaller ones. The 10 largest credit unions account for about 15% of the movement’s members and 17% of total assets.

CUNA’s Monthly Credit Union Estimates released Nov. 6, showed credit unions had 117.9 million members in September, 4.5% more than a year ago. The Top 10’s membership grew 8.2% to 17.9 million.

The Top 10’s loan portfolio growth was in the double digits, rising 10.6% to reach a portfolio balance of $178.2 billion. CUNA estimated that loans for all credit unions rose 9.8% to just nearly $1.1 trillion by Sept. 30. For the year, CUNA forecasts loans for all credit unions will grow 9.5%.

However, the Top 10 credit unions originated loans at a slower pace than in past quarters. The Top 10 granted $29.5 billion loans during the third quarter, 4.5% more than 2017’s third quarter. Real estate originations fell 3.2% to $9.3 billion, while other loans rose 8.5% to $20.2 billion.

By comparison, the Top 10’s total originations grew 6% to $26.6 billion from 2016’s third quarter to 2017’s third quarter, with real estate rising 5.9% to $9.4 billion and other originations rising 6.1% to $17.2 billion.

The composition and ranking of the Top 10 was unchanged from June. Total assets rose 8.5% to $246.7 billion, while net income as an annualized percent of assets was 1.33%, up 17 basis points from 2017′s third quarter. The Top 10 were:

  1. Navy Federal, Vienna, Va. ($95.3 billion in assets, 8.1 million members) had ROA of 1.97%, +37 bps.
  2. State Employees’ Credit Union, Raleigh, N.C. ($38.6 billion in assets, 2.4 million members) had ROA of 0.68%, -6 bps.
  3. PenFed, Tysons, Va. ($24.1 billion in assets, 1.7 million members) had ROA of 0.62%, -26 bps.
  4. BECU, Seattle ($18.8 billion in assets, 1.1 million members) had ROA of 1.39%, +14 bps.
  5. SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Santa Ana, Calif. ($14.9 billion in assets, 845,685 members) had ROA of 1.20%, +20 bps.
  6. First Tech Federal Credit Union, Mountain View, Calif. ($12.3 billion in assets, 542,985 members) had ROA of 1.58%, +41 bps.
  7. Golden 1 Credit Union, Sacramento, Calif. ($12.1 billion in assets, 983,252 members) had ROA of 0.87%, +17 bps.
  8. Alliant Credit Union, Chicago ($11 billion in assets, 428,427 members) had ROA of 0.51%, -26 bps.
  9. America First Federal Credit Union, Riverdale, Utah ($10.2 billion in assets, 998,845 members) had ROA of 1.40%, +29 bps.
  10. Security Service Federal Credit Union, San Antonio ($9.5 billion in assets, 774,223 members) had ROA of 0.76%, +23 bps.