BB&T Corp., the first top-25 U.S. bank to post second-quarter results, said operating earnings rose 15.4%, to $193.7 million, spurred by loan and deposit growth.

Per-share earnings of 54 cents met Wall Street's expectations for the Winston-Salem, N.C., company. Net earnings, reduced by $21 million in after-tax charges associated with acquisitions and systems conversions, rose 3% from a year earlier, to $172.7 million.

For the banking industry at large the quarter was marked by severe market volatility and growing concern about commercial credit quality. Some other banks - including Wachovia Corp., which is also based in North Carolina - have issued earnings warnings for the period and year because of rising nonperformers.

But commercial loans seem not to have undermined $48.7 billion-asset BB&T, largely because it does not participate in the syndicated loan market, analysts said.

"I am particularly pleased with our remarkably strong credit quality and healthy earnings, given the current interest rate environment," said John A. Allison, BB&T's chairman and chief executive officer. "We have seen no deterioration in the overall quality of our loan portfolios thus far in 2000 despite signs the national economy is beginning to slow."

BB&T bought two Georgia banking companies in the period: of Hardwick Holding Co. and First Banking Co.. On July 6 it wrapped up its purchase of $6.6 billion asset One Valley Bancorp, gaining 123 branches from the Charleston, W.Va., company.

Climbing interest rates have put pressure on BB&T's margins and dampened the mortgage lending business, but Mr. Allison said his company was able to boost its noninterest income outside of mortgage income and to contain noninterest expenses.

Noninterest revenues rose almost 10%, to $227.5 million, lifted by an 11.8% increase in deposit fees, to $59 million. Deposits rose 10.5%, to $31.8 billion.

Mortgage banking income plunged 47%, to $23 million. Investment banking income rose 6%, to $40.6 million.

Net chargeoffs were 0.22% and nonperforming assets amounted to 0.29% of assets, Mr. Allison said. Nonperforming assets were essentially flat against first-quarter levels.

"The credit quality was sound and they have very good revenue momentum," said Christopher W. Marinac, an analyst with Robinson-Humphrey Co. in Atlanta. "No matter how you look at it, revenues grew faster than expenses in the quarter, which is healthy for a bank. The company had very good loan growth and sound deposit growth."

Lori Appelbaum, an analyst with Goldman Sachs & Co., praised BB&T's "very stable credit quality" as well as its stability in nonperforming assets and chargeoffs.

BB&T's stock fell 50 cents Wednesday, to close at $26.875.

For more earnings data, please go to the Ranking the Banks section of

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