The early earnings season continued its rocky start for financials Tuesday, with U.S. Bancorp (USB) reporting that second quarter income slid 18 percent, as the bank absorbed a loan loss provision that more than tripled the levels recorded one year ago. Financial analysts have expected the going to be rough for community and regional banks, including mega-regionals like U.S. Bancorp, which has a strong presence in the West and Midwest; but the banks poor results were worse than analysts had expected, at $950 million, or $.53 per share, down from $1.16 billion, or $.65 per share, a year earlier. The Wall Street Journal reported that Thomson's analyst poll had pegged earnings at $.59 per share. Driving the loss was a sizeable loan loss provision of $596 million, an increase of $111 million over the first quarter of 2008 and $405 million from one year earlier; the bank cited "continuing stress in the residential real estate markets, including homebuilding and related supplier industries, driven by declining home prices in most geographic regions." Net charge-offs in the second quarter of 2008 were $396 million, up from $293 million one quarter earlier and more than double year-ago totals; U.S. Bank officials said they expect charge-offs to continue to climb when third quarter results are reported. Not suprisingly given the jump in loss reserves, total nonperforming assets continued to rise as well, reaching $1.1 billion at the end of June -- that's up 34 percent in just one quarter. Despite mounting credit costs, U.S. Bancorp chairman, president and CEO Richard Davis said the bank expected to maintain its dividend, and that it viewed the current market as a chance to grow market share. "This environment has created an opportunity for our company to both solidify and grow our position in the markets we serve," he said. Shares in the bank were at $23.02, down 1.33 percent in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Disclosure: The author held no positions in USB when this story was originally published. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.