UPDATE 1-BB&T profit rises on higher mortgage banking revenue

Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:45am EST

Jan 17 (Reuters) - Regional bank BB&T Corp's fourth-quarter profit beat analysts' estimates by a small margin, as higher demand for refinancing drove its mortgage banking revenue.

Home owners in the United States are rushing to lock in low interest rates by refinancing their loans, helping banks earn higher mortgage fees and post strong revenues.

BB&T's mortgage banking revenue rose 71 percent to $231 million.

Net income available to common shareholders rose to $506 million, or 71 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $391 million, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings per share of 70 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Commercial and industrial lending rose 8 percent to $38 billion, while residential mortgage lending rose 19 percent to $23.82 billion.

"Despite a challenging environment and seasonal headwinds, average loans held for investment continued to grow. The increase was led by C&I (commercial and industrial), direct retail and residential mortgage", Chief Executive Kelly King said in a statement.

The southeastern U.S. bank, which has a market value of more than $22 billion, emerged from the financial crisis as one of the strongest lenders in the region, avoiding many of the real estate problems faced by its peers.

Shares of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank closed at $30.31 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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