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The Earnings Journal

Recent earnings activity

February 4, 2009

By staff

A sour economy has many of the nation's mid-sized banks reporting big-sized losses.

A $6 billion non-cash goodwill impairment charge left Regions Financial Corp. with a massive $6.24 billion fourth-quarter loss. Quarterly earnings worsened dramatically from the $0.09 billion profit in the third quarter and the $0.07 billion profit in the fourth-quarter 2007.

Full-year earnings at Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions were a $5.6 billion loss.

A significant increase in the allowance for loan losses pushed fourth-quarter losses at Popular Inc. to $0.70 billion from $0.29 billion a year earlier. Popular had a $1.24 billion loss in 2008 while 2007 losses were just $0.06 billion.

KeyCorp reported last month a $524 million fourth-quarter loss. Earnings deteriorated significantly from a $36 million loss in the third quarter and a $25 million profit a year earlier. The latest loss was primarily due to a noncash accounting charge for goodwill impairment and the continued building of loan-loss reserves "in light of the challenging economic environment."

For all of 2008, Cleveland-based KeyCorp. said losses were $1.47 billion, souring from an $0.94 profit during the prior year.

Fourth-quarter earnings were a $418 million loss at Huntington Bancshares Inc., earnings data reported last month indicated. The loss reflected a $162 million increase in the allowance for credit losses and a $961 million increase in non-performing assets -- including the $650 million remaining balance to Franklin Credit Management. During the prior quarter, the Columbus, Ohio-based company had a $75 million profit, while it had a $239 million loss a year earlier.

Huntington said it lost $114 million during all of 2008, compared to a 2007 profit of $75 million.

"The poor performance reflected the very difficult and challenging economic environment in which we find ourselves," Huntington Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen D. Steinour said in the report. "Our relationship with Franklin Credit Management has been the primary worry of our investors."

Recent earnings data from MGIC Investment Corp. indicated that the Milwaukee-based company had an $0.27 billion loss during the fourth quarter, improving from a $1.47 billion loss in the same period during 2007. Falling home prices and an ongoing recession were blamed for the losses.

The full-year loss at MGIC was $0.53 billion, improving from a 2007 loss of $1.67 billion.

FirstFed Financial Corp. reported Monday a $245 million fourth-quarter loss. Earnings worsened from $52 million in the third quarter and an $8 million profit in the fourth-quarter 2007. The latest quarterly loss reflected a $220.0 million provision for loan losses and was prompted by continued high delinquencies, increasing foreclosures and further deterioration in the California real estate and employment markets.

The Los Angeles-based company said it had a $401 million loss for all of last year. Earnings deteriorated significantly from a $95 million profit during 2007.

Morgan Stanley recently reported a $1.81 billion fiscal fourth-quarter profit, falling from $2.56 billion a year prior. Full-year earnings were $1.71 billion, tumbling from $3.21 billion in 2007. Results reflected $2.6 billion in net mortgage-related losses.

Citigroup Inc.'s restructuring last month into two separate units -- Citicorp and Citi Holdings -- was forced by its recent losses, Fitch Ratings recently said. Citi Holdings, which will hold $850 billion in non-core assets, is likely to face continued losses as the global economic downturn and continued market turmoil continue.

Fitch noted that a sale of Citi Holdings, for which financial results could be published by the second quarter, could result in a ratings downgrade of the unit.

Earnings at the nation's 7,904 federally insured credit unions dropped 16 percent during the first nine months of 2008, the National Credit Union Association recently announced. The deterioration was tied to a 72 percent increase in the provision for loan and lease losses and reflected current financial-industry stress.

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