Providian Financial Corp. said its third-quarter earnings set a record, and the San Francisco credit card specialist announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

The company increased its quarterly cash dividend 20% from the same period last year, to 6 cents per share, payable on a pre-split basis.

Providian’s net income for the third quarter rose 33%, to $200.7 million, or $1.36 per share.

Total managed loans increased 9.87%, to $24.5 billion. Providian added 1.1 million customers, and its credit card accounts climbed 32.7%, to 15 million.

The company spent $139 million on marketing expenses for the quarter, mostly in direct mail, telemarketing, and television advertising.

Providian’s balance sheet seemed to show few traces of the restrictions placed on the company by a June consent decree in which the company agreed to pay $300 million to settle complaints about its marketing and operational practices.

Membership fee products, such as credit card protection policies, were a focus of the complaints, and Providian now requires customers to opt in for these products. Providian said Thursday its fee product sales to super-prime customers dropped more than 20%, but sales to middle-market customers remained largely unchanged.

“We expect our interest margin to grow faster than the fee component,” said David J. Petrini, chief financial officer. “We already have a pretty highly-penetrated portfolio” of fee products. “We have cross-sold membership products to between 5.5 and 6 million of our credit card customers already.”

Meanwhile, third-quarter net income at Metris Cos. — another card specialist that relies heavily on fee-based products — rose 55% from the same period last year, to $48.4 million, or 52 cents per share. For the first nine months of this year the company reported earnings of $146.6 million, or $1.60 per share, after posting a loss of $81.3 million, or $1.02 per share, for the same period last year.

Sears Roebuck and Co.’s net income rose 17.8%, to $278 million, or 81 cents per share. The retail giant credited the increase to the continuing strength of its credit business coupled with its share repurchase program.

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