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BB&T 4Q net income jumps on growing fees, loans

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- BB&T Corp.'s net income rose in the fourth quarter as the bank made more loans and expanded its deposit base.

The bank based in Winston-Salem, N.C., said Thursday it had boosted revenue from fees on insurance and mortgage banking and collected more interest on loans.

BB&T managed to keep non-interest expenses roughly flat while folding two major acquisitions, Crump Insurance and BankAtlantic, into its business, CEO Kelly King said in a statement.

"We achieved record net income for the year and accomplished most of our strategic initiatives," King said.

BB&T's net income in the three months ended Dec. 31 soared 29 percent, to $506 million, or 71 cents per share, from $391 million, or 55 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Net income was higher in part because the bank's borrowing costs fell 21 percent after it repaid about $3.2 billion of outstanding debt in the second and third quarters, BB&T said.

BB&T also benefited from much higher net income in its community banking business — $220 million, compared with $50 million a year earlier. The company said expenses were far lower because it foreclosed on fewer properties.

Net interest income rose to $1.51 billion from $1.49 billion in the same period a year earlier. Net interest income combines interest on loans that the bank collects and interest on deposits and debt that the bank pays out. It is a measure of the bank's ability to profit from its lending.

Banks are seeing interest income squeezed by ultra-low interest rates and competition for depositors. They rely increasingly on fees for services like money management and basic retail banking.

BB&T reports this category as "net interest income - taxable equivalent."

BB&T's average total loans and leases held for investment rose 7.3 percent, to $113.57 billion from $105.81 billion in 2011's fourth quarter.

Noninterest income, which includes insurance and fees charged for mortgage and retail banking, increased 11 percent, to $1.02 billion from $922 million a year earlier.

Total revenue rose 5 percent, to $2.53 billion from $2.41 billion in the same period of 2011.

The net income result was right in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet, while revenue was better than the $2.45 billion that they had projected.

For the full year 2012, BB&T's net income rose to $1.92 billion, or $2.70 per share, from $696 million, or $1.83 per share in the same period a year earlier.

BB&T is the holding company for Branch Banking and Trust Co., which provides banking and trust services for retail and commercial clients. Its services include basic retail banking for consumers and small businesses, auto and credit card lending, brokerage, asset management and supply chain management. As of December 31, 2011, it operated 1,779 branch offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Indiana, and Washington, D.C.

BB&T shares rose 62 cents, or 2 percent, to $30.93 in afternoon trading. In the past year, it has traded between $26.58 and $34.37.