KeyCorp's (KEY) fourth-quarter earnings fell 30%, hurt by a charge from a litigation escrow deposit. The Cleveland-based lender earned $194 million, or 20 cents a share, down from $279 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier, meeting expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Income from continuing operations fell to 21 cents a share from 33 cents a share. Results for the three months ended Dec. 31 include a $24 million charge from VISA's decision to book the deposit and a $28 million gain from the sale of Tuition Management Systems. The company said nonperforming loans and nonperforming assets both fell during the quarter and charge-offs declined to $105 million, or 0.86% of average loan balances. Chairman and Chief Executive Beth Mooney said the company saw continued improvement in credit quality with growth in commercial, financial and agricultural loans. "These results confirm our belief that the inflection point for loan growth was reached in the third quarter of 2011," Mooney said. For 2011, KeyCorp reported income from continuing operations of $857 million, or 92 cents a share, up from $413 million, or 47 cents a share, for 2010 due to lower credit costs and improved noninterest expense. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw.