U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) Meets Expectations in 4Q 2010 Earnings
In what’s shaping up to be a good news/bad news earning season, U.S. Bancorp (USB) delivered the latest round of good news with reported fourth quarter 2010 earnings that were in line with analysts’ estimates.
Over the course of the last four quarters, USB has either met or surpassed earnings predictions in each quarter.
Last week saw JP Morgan Chase (JPM) crush the Street estimates, while earlier this week Citigroup (C) fell short of estimates.
The bank reported fourth quarter 2010 earnings attributable to common shareholders of $974 million or 49 cents per share. However, excluding significant items, earnings came in at 46 cents per share.
In addition, the bank reported its fourth-quarter profit jumped 64 percent as it wrote off fewer bad loans.
But in what will surely be analyzed closely, Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Davis announced that new lending of $65.6 billion was at its highest level since before the financial panic that began in late 2008.
Davis said the loan growth figure for the final quarter of the year will be “something like twice” the 0.7% total loan growth the bank experienced in the third quarter from the second.
“Demand is high across all sectors,” Davis said at the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference in New York.
He also said the Minneapolis bank, the fifth largest U.S. commercial bank by assets, won’t compete with other banks by relaxing its standards for loans, though it may compete on pricing.
“Our willingness to tolerate a change in underwriting is zero,” Davis said.
Loan growth has become a key topic for the banking world, as analysts have anxiously awaited signs of improvement both as a signal that banks will be able to increase earnings and a sign the U.S. economy is strengthening.
Separately, Davis again highlighted his desire to be among the first large banks to increase its dividend, saying he is “disappointed” to have to wait for others to get approval.
He said it is his understanding that the Federal Reserve, which last month gave guidance to banks on paying dividends, would likely restrict their dividend payout ratios to 30% or less. But Davis said U.S. Bancorp expects to be permitted to pay 30% of its net income out as dividends. He said the bank could pay higher but wasn’t going to seek permission and have the Fed say no.
“I’m not going to try and curry favor and on day one have the … best” payout rate, Davis said. “We will be right there out of the gate as soon as anybody else can.”
U.S. Bancorp is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is over 150 years old with over $300 billion in assets. The company is classified as a financial services firm, and serves as the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth largest bank in the country.
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