Fifth Third 4Q earnings edge lower

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- Fifth Third Bancorp reported Tuesday its fourth-quarter net income fell 2 percent on lower income from fees and investments and expenses to set aside money for a litigation reserve.

The Cincinnati-based company said its net income fell to $383 million, or 43 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That is down slightly from earnings of $390 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

The results edged out analysts' average forecast for 42 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Earnings from deposits and loans, or net interest income, rose slightly to $905 million. Earnings from fees and other charges, or noninterest income, fell 20 percent to $703 million.

Fifth Third said overall credit trends were favorable, with fourth-quarter net charge-offs of bad loans at $148 million, down from $109 million in the third quarter and virtually flat with $147 million in the prior-year quarter.

Fifth Third shares had closed Wednesday up 10 cents at $21.92. They have traded in a range of $15.43 and $21.96 in the past 52 weeks.

Kevin T. Kabat, Fifth Third's vice chairman and CEO, said the quarterly results "rounded out a very good year."

The regional banker said its full-year results saw a record net income of $1.8 billion for 2013, up 16 percent from $1.6 billion in 2012. Net income available to common shareholders was $2.02 per share, up from $1.66 per share the previous year. It also said full-year net charge-offs were down 29 percent, at the lowest levels since 2007. Fifth Third was hit hard in the recession by the housing slump in key markets including Florida and Michigan.

"Fifth Third performed very well in 2013, and we feel the company is well positioned to succeed as we enter 2014," Kabat said in a statement.

Fifth Third operates more than 1,320 banking centers in 12 states: Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.