NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. banks and thrifts earned $26.3 billion during the fourth quarter and $119.5 billion in earnings for 2011, the industry's best annual performance since 2006, according to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. statement issued Tuesday
When combined, U.S. banks and savings and loan associations earned $145.2 billion.
Of course, at this point in the credit cycle, the release of loan loss reserves continues to pad earnings. The 19 commercial banks (not holding companies) with total assets of $100 billion as of Dec. 30 saw their allowances for loan losses decline by $4.9 billion during the fourth quarter, according to data provided by HighlineFI, directly boosting bottom-line results.
For all of 2011, the group of 19 released $28.3 billion in reserves.
- Citibank, NA -- the main banking subsidiary of Citigroup (C) -- saw its allowance for loan losses decline by $8.4 billion during 2011, adjusting for the merger of Citibank (South Dakota) N.A. into Citibank, NA, on July 1. Citibank, NA had $24.7 billion in loan loss reserves as of Dec. 30.
- Bank of America (BAC) subsidiary FIA Card Services, NA released $7.4 billion in loan loss reserves during 2011. Meanwhile, the company's larger subsidiary Bank of America, NA, released only $542.5 million in reserves during 2011, as the subsidiary was saddled with problem mortgage loans.
- Wells Fargo Bank, NA -- the main banking subsidiary of Wells Fargo (WFC) -- released $3.3 billion in reserves. The holding company's returns on average assets (ROA) have ranged from 1.11% to 1.27% over the past five quarters, for the steadiest and strongest performance among the "big four" U.S. bank holding companies.
- JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) main banking subsidiary JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, released only $928 million in reserves during 2011. The company's smaller Chase Bank USA, NA subsidiary saw its allowance for loan losses declined by $2.4 billion during 2011.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV