The KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) earnings announcement is right around the corner, and investors are facing a big question: Will CEO Beth E. Mooney and crew deliver good news? Or should investors be fretting the upcoming release?

Fear not, Fool!
If the third quarter was any indication, KeyCorp investors should expect to see some strong results for the fourth quarter. Nonperforming assets were on a downward slide, and KeyCorp was among the leaders in increased mortgage lending during 2012, a combination that can boost results. Should we see similar improvement in both metrics during the fourth quarter, KeyCorp could be poised to jump after releasing earnings.

The third quarter also saw a sizable increase in net interest margin at the bank, rising 17 basis points  from the second to the third quarter to 3.23%. Though another such increase should not be expected, any increase would be cause for celebration among investors. However, the bank has also been showing robust growth in its noninterest income over the past year, and noninterest income is on the verge  of contributing as much to Key's top line as net interest income.

Finally, third quarter results were directly affected by $8 million in costs associated with the acquisition of branches during the quarter. Now that those one-time costs are behind the bank, it should be looking to convert those new branches into a larger deposit base and income generation, which will only help to increase bottom-line results. While investors should be mindful of the results KeyCorp is set to release, I personally don't think there is much to worry about. I guess we will know for sure on Thursday morning.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.