In Germany they say, "Beweise her oder Maul halten." The English equivalent? "Put up or shut up!"

Either way, Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) lived up to the challenge by posting third-quarter results decidedly better than those of many of its more hapless competitors, including UBS (NYSE:UBS), Citigroup (NYSE:C), and Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER).

Deutsche's key to success was pretty simple -- don't lose more money than you make. Others in the industry, like Merrill, didn't take this route, and their massive losses led to some pretty pitiful quarters. Of course, Deutsche didn't escape unscathed -- its corporate and investment-banking segment took $3.2 billion in charges stemming from debt and equity trading, and write-downs on leveraged loan commitments.

Balancing out those losses were good showings from other business units. Although debt underwriting got dunked, equity underwriting rose 47% year over year, and merger-and-acquisition advisory climbed 29%. Also cushioning the blow were glimmers of life in the debt and equity trading groups; the corporate segment brought in more than $900 million, thanks to gains from some investment sales -- including Allianz SE, Linde AG, and its building at 60 Wall Street in Manhattan. The private-client and asset-management segment also posted nice 19% year-over-year growth.

Maybe I'm greedy, but I was hoping Deutsche might do even better. Over the summer, Bloomberg reported that thanks to a forward-thinking analyst, the firm seemed to have a better grasp than most on the troubles ahead. It's a tough call for an outsider to make, but maybe the company wasn't aggressive enough -- a la Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).

Either way, the bank has done better than some so far, but as they might say at headquarters, they are not aus dem Grobsten heraus -- out of the woods -- yet.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants ...