I suppose it's refreshing to hear a bank complain about low interest rates for a change. While most financial institutions have been cashing in on the spread between actual interest rates and rates charged for credit, Fifth Third Bancorp
Fifth Third's CEO, George Schaefer Jr., conceded that third-quarter results benefited from "strong deposit growth trends, strong credit-quality performance and controlled expense levels." "However," Schaefer added, a "prolonged period of extremely low interest rates continues to pressure spread revenues, and the relative value provided by a well-capitalized balance sheet and strong deposit franchise has continued to diminish."
To counteract this slowdown in revenue growth, the company has been busy opening new locations, and it recently acquired First National Bankshares of Florida (with $5.3 billion of assets). Fifth Third's earnings were strong in the third quarter at $0.83 per share, $0.03 better than the consensus estimate and 15.3% ahead of last year's $0.72 per share.
The company's third-quarter return on assets (ROA) was 1.95% (versus 1.85% last year), and its return on equity was 21.1% (versus 19.3%). Fifth Third's earnings were also aided by a $27 million drop in the reserve for credit losses and the subsequent decrease in the provision for loan and lease losses (because of favorable credit quality trends).
Bearing witness to Fifth Third's concern over interest-rate spread revenues, the company's banking service revenue declined 35% when compared with last year and 20% versus the second quarter of 2004.
Also, there was strong growth in Fifth Third's retail transaction account and commercial customer additions in the period that translated into positive deposit trends. The average transaction account balances increased 15% over the second quarter and 7% over last year's third quarter.
The shares are trading at 16 times this year's earnings estimate of $3.16 per share, which is attractive relative to the company's 13% growth rate, combined with its strong 2.57% dividend yield.
Deposit yourself in a comfortable chair, and withdraw information from these other takes:
Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and started his equity analysis career with regional banks. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.