US Bancorp 4Q profit rises as bank sets revenue record
[Update 1: Adds information from company conference call] U.S. Bancorp (USB) reported income of $1.35 billion in the fourth quarter, or 69 cents a share, up nearly 39% from a year ago as the lender cut its loan-loss provisions and boosted originations. The bank, which beat analysts' average earnings estimates of 63 cents a share, slashed its loan-loss provisions to $497 million in 4Q, down from $912 million a year earlier. Total average loans were $11.6 billion, up 6% in the fourth quarter over the year-ago period and driven by a 22.2% growth in residential mortgages. About 70% of that activity came from refinancings, according to chief financial officer Andy Cerere. Home equity and second mortgages, however, were down 4.4%. Mortgage banking revenue in 4Q rose 21.2% over the year-ago period. Residential mortgage loan net charge-offs remained relatively stable at $119 million. The bank also accrued a $130 million expense related to its mortgage servicing business. CEO Richard Davis said it's a one-time matter for costs due to regulation, including any payment for the pending attorneys general settlement with the nation's largest servicers. That $130 million, Davis said, does not represent any sort of final tally and is only for mortgage servicing, not representations and warranties. The bank once again set a record for quarterly revenue at $5.1 billion, after it notched a previous company high at $4.8 billion in the third quarter. While showing improvement on a linked quarter basis, US Bancorp noted that there "continues to be stress in the residential mortgage portfolio due to the decline in home values." Full-year income for the Minneapolis-based regional bank jumped to $4.87 billion, or 47%, from 2010. Mortgage banking income was up 21.2% on the year. Residential mortgages held by the company increased to $37.08 billion for the year-end 2011 from $30.73 billion at the close of 2010. "Throughout 2011, we remained focused on execution — prudently managing our businesses, investing in our franchise and producing consistent, solid growth and earnings," Davis said in a statement. "The result is that our company is stronger than it was a year ago and very well positioned to win in 2012." U.S Bancorp ended 2011 with $340 billion in assets, making it the fifth-largest commercial bank in the country, according to the company. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.