NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Coming out of a first-quarter earnings season with the largest U.S. banks all reporting significant year-over-year declines in first-quarter revenue, TheStreet has identified 10 actively traded names bucking the trend.
In order to identify the banks with the best revenue improvement, we focused on pre-provision net revenue, which SNL Financial defines as a bank's net interest income plus its noninterest income, minus noninterest expense.
This method has the advantage of excluding the release of loan loss reserves, which at this point in the credit cycle continue to pad the bottom lines of the largest banks.
The "big four" U.S. bank holding companies all saw significant releases of loan loss reserves during the first quarter, with Citigroup (C - Get Report) releasing $3.3 billion in credit reserve, while JPMorgan Chase's (JPM - Get Report) allowance for loan losses declined by $2.5 billion. Bank of America's (BAC - Get Report) loan loss reserves declined by $2 billion, and Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) released $1 billion in reserves.SNL's data paints a grim picture for the big four during the first quarter. Bank of America saw a 59% year-over-year decline in pre-provision net revenue to $6 billion, as the company's mortgage repurchase risk and legal expenses increased, while weak loan demand and declines in credit card fee income and checking account overdraft fees - brought about mainly by regulatory changes springing from the CARD act of 2009 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act -- signed into law by President Obama last July -- took their toll. Citigroup saw a 39% decline in pre-provision net revenue to $8.4 billion while JPMorgan Chase saw a 21% year-over-year decline to $8.5 billion. For Wells Fargo, the year-over-year decline in pre-provision net revenue was 18%, to $18 billion. The following are the 10 bank holding companies with three-month average daily trading volume of at least 50,000 shares, with the best year-over-year improvement in pre-provision net revenue. The list is limited to banks that had reported their first-quarter results as of last Friday.