Wachovia Corp (NYSE:WB), the fifth-largest bank in the country in terms of market capitalization, reported third-quarter results yesterday. For Fools with better things to do than dig through the 22 pages of financial exhibits from the earnings release, here's a recap of some of the more important figures, as well as an overview of which type of investor may be interested in investing in financial behemoths like this one.

For the quarter, total company revenue grew 5%, while earnings grew just more than 10%. Revenue stems from two primary sources: net interest income, and fee and other income. Net interest income is basically the spread banks earn from the difference between the interest they pay for taking in loans from depositors, and the interest they receive for loaning out those funds and making other investments. For the third quarter, Wachovia reported $281 billion in average loans and $291 billion in average core deposits, speaking to just how large the bank is. Fee and other income stems from managing assets for outside parties, investment banking fees, and related services. For Wachovia, the mix is split between both revenue sources.

Wachovia reports results from four major areas. The first and largest segment is General Bank, which consists of retail and commercial banking services for individuals and small businesses. General Bank accounts for the bulk of company revenue; for the quarter, fee and other income revenue grew 19% quarter over quarter, as did net interest income, which contributed to a 28% increase in net earnings. The acquisition of Westcorp also boosted results.

Capital Management consists of retail brokerage and asset management services. Total revenue grew 9%, as did assets under management, or AUM, to $250 billion. Overall, segment earnings advanced 32%, which was also partially a result of a couple of acquisitions.

Wealth Management is the smallest segment, consisting of private banking and trust portfolio management and financial planning services, and it saw earnings grow 15%. The final segment is Corporate and Investment Bank, which saw a 6% decrease in revenue and a fall in earnings to the tune of 2%.

Return on assets and return on equity are also important metrics to track for banks, as they offer insight into the returns the banks reap on their loans and overall equity invested in the business. Wachovia's return on average assets was 1.34% for the quarter, while return on average equity was 14.85%. Both are ahead of overall industry averages.

Another important recent development took place Oct. 1, when Wachovia completed a very large purchase of Golden West, one of the largest savings and loans in the country behind Washington Mutual (NASDAQ:WM). The recent results didn't include the Golden West purchase, but results going forward will. This will be interesting, since Golden West is very exposed to mortgage-related services that are seen as slowing because of higher mortgage rates and less frothy home appreciation.

Wachovia and its closest competitors, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), JPMorganChase (NYSE:JPM), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), have traditionally been of interest to income-oriented investors because of their high dividend yields. The largest domestic banks -- Citigroup (NYSE:C) is the largest, but is more exposed to global financial markets -- have still managed to post strong top- and bottom-line growth over the past several years. This is largely due to their consolidation of the industry by acquiring smaller competitors, which allows them to gain market share and drive earnings by cutting costs. Standard & Poor's estimates that the 10 largest domestic banks now control more than 67% of the market.

As Wachovia has grown organically and bought out the competition, net and non-interest income have grown about 15% annually over the past five years. That rate of growth has slowed over the more recent past but can reasonably be expected to continue. Even if it only comes in at a couple of percent, that's not bad, considering the current P/E is rather low at 13 and the dividend yield is high at 4%. The best bet may be to spread some funds over an investment in a couple of the largest banks, since they will continue to dominate the financial landscape for years to come and pay out a good chunk of their cash flow in the form of dividends.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.