SunTrust Banks Inc. on Wednesday reported that its fourth-quarter net income fell 1%, to $330.4 million, but said operating income met Wall Street expectations.

Earnings per share of $1.12 matched analysts’ estimates, according to First Call/Thomson Financial. A year earlier the Atlanta company’s earnings were $335.3 million, or $1.06 per share.

L. Phillip Humann, president and chief executive officer of $103.5 billion-asset SunTrust, declared 2000 a success and singled out the purchase of Crestar Financial Corp.

“Despite rising interest rates and a slowing economy, this was a year of significant achievement as we successfully completed the integration of our Crestar acquisition, improved operating efficiency, and maintained our historical focus on superior asset quality,” he said.

Michael Plodwick, an analyst with UBS Warburg, said the slowing economy had an impact on commercial loan demand at SunTrust but the company “is relatively in good shape,” he added. “The numbers were pretty much in line with expectations. Credit quality did deteriorate, but not to the extent some believed.”

Nonperforming assets in the fourth quarter were $428.3 million, or 0.41% of total assets, against 0.29% a year earlier. Its allowance for loan losses at Dec. 31 was $874.5 million, or 1.21% of loans.

The bank reported $53.4 million of net chargeoffs, against $109 million in the fourth quarter of 1999. For the year net chargeoffs were $130.8 million, or 0.19% of average loans.

Noninterest income was $446.8 million in the quarter and $1.77 billion for the year. Noninterest income represented 36% of SunTrust’s total revenue.

The company’s shares closed Wednesday at $62.625, up $1.8125. SunTrust is the nation’s ninth-largest commercial banking organization and has 1,100 branches in the South, mainly in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

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