In line with other American banks this earnings season, Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ:ZION) unveiled first-quarter results that came in under expectations.

The Utah-based lender booked total revenue of $682 million, a 4% decline over the same quarter of 2019. That was in spite of the roughly 5% growth in both loans and leases, and total deposits.

Money changing hands at a bank teller window.

Image source: Getty Images.

Net income dropped precipitously, however, tumbling 97% to land at $6 million, or $0.04 per share. This was chiefly due to a sizable increase in provisioning for loan losses, which grew by $220 million to $240 million across the one-year stretch. This is not uncommon for banks at the moment; many are anticipating a significant rise in defaults due to the economic deterioration caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic.

Yet it seems many analysts weren't expecting such heavy provisioning throughout the banking sector. Their estimates for Zions reflect this; on average, they were estimating the bank would book a per-share profit of $0.56. They were closer on revenue, collectively modeling a top line of almost $692 million.

Zions did not proffer any guidance for the current quarter or fiscal year. In its earnings release, the bank sounded a strikingly optimistic note about its proximate future.

"We confront the uncertain current economic environment with a strong capital and reserve position, a robust liquidity profile and a loan portfolio that has been substantially 'de-risked' in recent years, and that largely tends to have collateral as a secondary source of repayment," Chairman and CEO Harris H. Simmons said in a statement.

Perhaps that positive tone struck a chord with the market. In contrast to the slumps of the key equities indexes on Monday, Zions' share price increased to close the day marginally higher.

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