Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) announced Wednesday its third quarter earnings, reporting a profit of $1.64 billion, or 49 cents per share. Q3 net income fell 25 percent from last year's $2.17 billion in the same quarter, reflecting the economic headwinds now largely facing the nation's banking sector. The decrease was pressured in part by the credit crunch (surprise!), and by struggling financial institutions that have themselves affected Wells' profitability. Impairment charges for investments in troubled financial institutions -- Fannie Mae (FNM), Freddie Mac (FRE) and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. -- totaled $646 million, or 13 cents a share, Wells said. “The current credit cycle continued to be challenging,” said chief credit officer Mike Loughlin in a press statement. "While our wholesale portfolios continued to perform well given current market conditions, several consumer loan portfolios remained under stress.” Nonperforming assets totaled $6.29 billion in September, including $5 billion in nonperforming loans, $596 million in insured Government National Mortgage Association loan repurchases and $700 million in foreclosed and repossessed real estate and vehicles. NPAs rose 20 percent increase over the previous quarter's $5.23 billion. Wells reported $139 million in net loan write-offs for one- to four-family first mortgages, up 45 percent from the $96 million reported in June. “As expected, consumer behavior continued to be influenced by weakness in residential real estate values," Loughlin said. "Additionally, the effects of higher energy prices and higher unemployment levels impacted the performance of the consumer loan portfolios during the quarter.” Wells said it continued to see balances of 90 days or greater past due and still accruing increase "as the negative credit trends impact loan performance.” A total 429 million single- to four-family first mortgages were 90 days or more past due as of Sept. 30, up 91 percent from the 225 million past due mortgages reported in Sept. 2007. “Although Wells Fargo Financial credit losses were elevated from historic norms in all of our portfolios because of current market stress on consumers, we continued to fare much better than industry averages due to previously implemented tightened underwriting standards in our real estate, auto and credit cards businesses that have enabled us to effectively manage risk,” said CEO Tom Shippee. Read more about Wells Fargo's Q3 earnings >> Disclosure: The author held no relevant positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade. Editor’s Note: To contact the reporter on this story, email diana.golobay@housingwire.com.