April 19 (Reuters) - Fifth Third Bancorp reported higher quarterly net income as the Midwestern U.S. regional bank set aside less money for soured loans and had continued growth in its commercial loan portfolio.
The bank’s first-quarter results were helped by a $115 million pretax gain on the initial public offering of Vantiv Inc , a credit card payment processor owned by the bank and buyout firm Advent International. It had earlier forecast a pretax gain of about $95 million on its 49 percent stake in Vantiv.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based bank reported net income available to common shareholders of $421 million, or 45 cents a share, up from $88 million, or 10 cents a share, a year before.
Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 37 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Credit metrics stayed strong, with provisions for loan and lease losses down 46 percent to $91 million and net charge offs down 40 percent from a year before and 7.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, to $220 million.
Net interest income — the difference between what the bank earned on loans and paid out on deposits — rose 2 percent to $903 million.
Fifth Third, which earlier said it was selling many of its mutual fund assets, reported 2 percent growth in its loan portfolio, driven by a 5 percent surge in its commercial and industrial loan book. Analysts at Raymond James had forecast lower C&I loan growth, saying they didn’t think the U.S. economy would support the “robust” growth of 5.2 percent and 4.1 percent that Fifth Third reported in the last two quarters of 2011.
The company’s shares closed at $14.16 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.