As earnings season continued, Synovus Financial Corporation (NYSE:SNV) reported its fourth-quarter earnings today, with a net income of $35.8 million compared to $709 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. However in the fourth quarter of 2012 the company realized an $800 million tax benefit.

Excluding one-time credit charges as a result of the sale of distressed assets in the fourth quarter of 2012, Synovus had a pre-tax, pre-credit costs income of $96.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, versus $95.3 million and $108 million in the third quarter of 2013 and fourth quarter of 2012, respectively.

Synovus attributed the dip in income to lower net interest income from shrinking net interest margins, and dramatically lower mortgage banking income, which fell from $9.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $2.9 million in the most recent quarter. In addition its investment securities gains fell from $8.2 million to $737,000, and its private equity investments went from reporting a gain of $1.8 million to a loss of $2.1 million over the year.

The company did manage expenses well, as they fell from $213 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $190.7 million in the most recent quarter, a decline of 10.6%. Synovus also highlighted that it grew its loans by $346 million from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, representing an annualized gain of 7%. Commercial and industrial loans grew by $272.5 million from the third quarter of 2013, or 11.1% annualized, and retail loans grew by $75.6 million from the third quarter of 2013, or 8.4% annualized. 

"We were pleased to report 7% annualized sequential quarter loan growth, driven primarily by C&I [commercial and industrial] and retail lending," said Synovus Chairman and CEO Kessel D. Stelling. "Partnerships between our local bank divisions and large corporate banking teams across our five-state footprint produced meaningful results, and we saw growth in key markets such as Atlanta, Tampa, Charleston, Nashville, Savannah, and Columbus." Stelling noted in a statement that home equity lines of credit and private client mortgages drove the growth in retail loans during the quarter.

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