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What: Shares of Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp (NAS: FITB) were banking gains today, rising as much as 10% in intraday trading after the bank reported third-quarter earnings.
So what: Fifth Third surprised Wall Street in its third-quarter announcement by reporting $0.40 in quarterly earnings per share against the average expectation of $0.33. Earnings per share were up 14% from last quarter and a whopping 82% from the same quarter last year. The bank was helped primarily by lower loan-loss provisions. Provisions of $87 million were down 23% from the second quarter and 81% from a year ago.
Now what: Fifth Third was among the regional banks that struggled more than the average in the wake of the financial crisis. However, the numbers from the third quarter show the bank continuing to claw its way back. Most notably, credit quality at the bank continues to improve. At the end of the quarter, nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans, leases, and other assets fell to 1.93% from 2.15% at the end of last year. Charge offs were at the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2007, falling to $262 million from $304 million last quarter. If these trends continue, the current book value multiple of 0.8 on Fifth Third's stock could prove to be a pretty good deal.
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