Regional bank Fifth Third’s 4Q profit tops Street

By Dan Sewell

Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — Regional banker Fifth Third Bancorp reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income jumped 28 percent, helped by improving credit conditions.

The Cincinnati-based company earned $390 million, or 43 cents per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. That compares with $305 million, or 33 cents per share, a year ago, and topped analysts’ estimates for of 41 cents per share.

Net charge-offs of bad loans dropped to $147 million from $239 million, which Fifth Third said Thursday was the lowest level since 2007’s third quarter. Total delinquencies fell 4 percent from the third quarter, the lowest since 2004’s second quarter.

CEO Kevin T. Kabat called the results “strong,” and cited double-digit mortgage banking and corporate banking revenue growth among other highlights. He told analysts on a conference call that Fifth Third expects loan charge-offs to again be lower in the first quarter of 2013, and that the bank is setting aside less money to cover loan losses.

“That gives us confidence as we move into 2013,” he said of the bank’s fourth-quarter performance and favorable credit trends. Kabat said Fifth Third is well-positioned for more growth during a slow national economic recovery.

For the full year, Fifth Third reported net income of $1.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 2011. Earnings available to common shareholders were $1.66 per share, up from $1.18 per share in 2011. Kabat said it was the second-highest yearly net income level in company history.

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