April 23, 2012 / 12:25 PM / 6 years ago

SunTrust Banks earnings rise on improved lending

(Reuters) - SunTrust Banks Inc (STI.N), a large Atlanta-based bank that was hit hard by the mortgage crisis, said its first-quarter earnings jumped 38.8 percent from a year ago on lower loan charge-offs and delinquencies and moderately improved new lending.

The 17th largest U.S. bank by assets as of the end of 2011, reported net income of $250 million, or 46 cents a share, compared with $180 million, or 38 cents a share in the first quarter of 2011.

Results beat the consensus average forecast of analysts, who expected earnings of 33 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue at SunTrust, as at several other large regional banks that reported last week, was boosted by higher mortgage income that totaled $63 million in the first quarter compared with losses of $62 million in the last quarter of 2011 and of $1 million in last year’s first quarter.

    SunTrust, however, again increased its reserve for mortgage repurchases by $63 million in the first quarter on expectations that it will be contractually forced to buy back housing loans sold to other institutions.

    Total revenue at the bank grew 3 percent from a year ago, and 8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, to $2.2 billion.

    Noninterest expenses fell from the fourth quarter, when the bank set aside $120 million for a tentative mortgage servicing settlement, but rose 5 percent from a year ago on higher compensation and benefit costs and operating losses related to legal and mortgage servicing costs.

    “Improved revenue, as well as continued favorable trends in loans, deposits and credit metrics were hallmarks for the quarter,” SunTrust Chairman and Chief Executive William Rogers said in a statement.

    Reporting By Jed Horowitz; Editing by Maureen Bavdek

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