Earnings season is here once again. We're only a few days in, but we have already seen some impressive numbers from banking behemoths JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, with Bank of America preparing to release its earnings Wednesday morning. While these results are important to those of us that follow the banking sector, my interest lies in some of the smaller banks beyond the behemoths.

With that in mind, I turn my attention to another bank that will be reporting earnings Wednesday morning. Here are some things I will be watching when it comes to Comerica (NYSE:CMA).

The usual numbers everyone cares about
Analysts are expecting a slight increase in revenue over last year, estimating $633.7 million as the revenue number for the bank. On the earnings side, the consensus is $0.65 a share, which would be a 27% increase over the same period last year. With fewer shares outstanding -- because of a $375 million repurchase earlier this year -- both targets seem well within reach.

Continue with increased lending
A lot of the larger banks have cut back on lending this year, but that hasn't stopped Comerica from leading the pack among regionals. By increasing lending by 12% so far this year, profit is up nearly 50% over last year. With greater lending comes greater responsibility, so in addition to looking at the amount of new loans, it's also important to keep an eye on what nonperforming loans did this quarter. We want to see lending go up and nonperforming loans go down, so I'll be paying close attention to these numbers on Wednesday morning.

Other things to look for
Comerica raised its dividend to $0.15 per quarter back in June, so I don't expect to see another dividend increase just yet. However, the previously mentioned share buyback combined with the increased dividend helped return 81% of second-quarter net income to shareholders. If they are able to report similar numbers for the third quarter, Comerica might become an attractive option for investors going forward.

Robert Eberhard has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Follow him on Twitter, or click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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