If investors were looking for a premonition from SunTrust's (NYSE:STI) second-quarter earnings release today, then the financial industry should expect to have a good week. The strong Sun should warm the financial companies as many of them announce earnings over the next few days.

Atlanta-based SunTrust reported second-quarter earnings of $1.29 per share today, which was $0.03 ahead of analysts' expectations and widely beat last year's $1.17 number. The company pointed to "attractive demographics" as a key driver to its growth in all of its core business units. SunTrust's revenues were up 10%, year over year, and it posted 4.8% higher revenues than expected.

The earnings windfall by SunTrust certainly sets the tone for the remainder of the week, when many other financial institutions are expected to report results. The list of companies includes Citigroup (NYSE:C), Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB), State Street (NYSE:STT), Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER), and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC).

However, SunTrust's asset portfolio, which measures the core underlying strength of the company, really didn't produce much improvement. This financial institution, along with many of its fellow companies, has been making piles of money between the spread in actual interest rates and what they charge consumers for borrowing money (primarily credit cards).

The financial industry has done well to take advantage of the favorable interest rate environment. However, with Alan Greenspan recently putting an ascending rate plan in focus, will the industry be able to adjust and continue to prosper? I think it will, at least in the short term (the next six months). This may not bode well for the long term, though, when financial companies will be hard-pressed to take advantage of a narrowing interest rate gap. In my opinion, SunTrust shares, which are trading at 12 times the 2005 EPS estimate of $5.50 per share, are attractive only for income investors looking for a total return (current dividend yield is 3.11%).

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Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.