A sign of a healthier bank involves having confidence to use the fourth quarter as a kitchen sink to address issues head on.

Conditions have improved greatly at many Southeastern banks, including Regions Financial (RF) in Birmingham, Ala., and Synovus Financial (SNV) in Columbus, Ga. The companies have overcome significant credit quality issues and are starting to see signs of loan growth. This rebound paved the way for the companies to take one-time charges during the fourth quarter without overly cutting into their bottom lines.

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