9 Critical Numbers About Fifth Third Bancorp

Given that you clicked on this article, it seems safe to assume you either own shares of Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ: FITB  ) or are considering buying them in the near future. If so, then you've come to the right place. The table below reveals the nine most critical numbers that investors need to know about Fifth Third before deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold its stock.

But before getting to that, a brief introduction is in order. Tracing its roots back to pre-Civil War Ohio, Fifth Third has since transformed into one of the nation's largest regional banks. Based in Cincinnati, it operates more than 1,325 full-service banking centers branches across 12 predominantly Midwestern states. As of the end of 2012, it had $122 billion of assets on its balance sheet, ranking it in size between Georgia's SunTrust Banks at $173 billion and Birmingham, Alabama's Regions Financial at $121 billion.

As you can see in the table above, Fifth Third outperforms the industry average on a number of fronts. Among other things, its non-performing loan ratio is 62 basis points less than the average and its efficiency ratio -- of which a lower number is preferable -- beat its typical competitor by nine percentage points. In addition, it's less leveraged than most of its competitors, and the bank's return on equity is considerably higher than the industry at 11.7% for the final quarter of 2012.

Alternatively, Fifth Third's primary weaknesses are its below-average net interest margin and its similarly substandard dividend payout ratio. With respect to the former, its 3.55% margin is a non-negligible 15 basis points less than the industry's 3.7%. And with respect to the latter, Fifth Third only pays out roughly a fifth of its earnings to shareholders via dividends -- though, it's important to note here that the company's board will vote in June on whether or not to increase its quarterly payout after getting approval to do so from the Federal Reserve in the middle of March.

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