Discover Financial Services, the credit-card issuer that’s expanded to student lending and unsecured personal loans, posted first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as card spending increased.

Net income fell 1.9 percent to $575 million, or $1.35 a share, from $586 million, or $1.28, a year earlier, the Riverwoods, Illinois-based firm said Tuesday in a statement. The average estimate of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for profit of $1.29 a share.

Chief Executive Officer David Nelms has increased Discover’s direct student-loan business and sought to drive more transactions to the company’s payments network. Discover has  forecast loan growth of 4 percent to 6 percent this year, after ending 2015 with $57.9 billion in card loans, a 3.1 percent increase from a year earlier.

“We made progress on our priorities this quarter, most notably accelerating loan growth into our target range,” Nelms said in the statement.

Total loans rose 4 percent to $70.3 billion in the quarter as credit-card lending increased by a similar percentage to $55.6 billion, the company said. Provisions for loan losses climbed 9 percent to $424 million.

Discover gained 1.2 percent to close at $52.55 in New York. The shares have slid 2 percent this year, compared with the 8.6 percent decline of American Express Co., the biggest credit-card issuer by purchases.

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