Profits at Fifth Third Bancorp fell sharply in the fourth quarter, mostly because of a one-time item but also due to a broad-based decline in fees.

The $142 billion-asset company earned $395 million, or 40% less than a year earlier. Earnings per share were 49 cents, beating an estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 6 cents.


Noninterest income fell 44% to $620 million primarily because of gains recognized in the prior year from sales of shares in the payment processor Vantiv.

Still, excluding Vantiv, noninterest income declined 2% to $608 million due to lower fees from service charges, corporate banking, wealth management and mortgage banking.

Net interest income rose 1% to $909 million, while the net interest margin increased 1 basis point to 2.86%. The provision for loan losses fell 41% to $54 million.

Meanwhile, total loans declined 1% to $93 billion. The Cincinnati company continued to pull back on auto lending, and also exited certain commercial and industrial loans that “did not meet risk-adjusted profitability targets,” according to a Jan. 24 press release.

Noninterest expenses were $960 million, or flat from the prior year, as higher compensation overshadowed lower technology and occupancy costs.

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