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Dutch financial giant



, burned by another batch of bad investments, turned in fourth-quarter results that disappointed already diminished expectations.

Though the absolute worst may very well be behind ING, plenty of ugliness continues to hang around on its balance sheet.

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The Amsterdam-based firm, bailed out twice by the Dutch government, took charges and writedowns of 1.7 billion euro in the fourth quarter, mostly to account for the declining value of investments in just about every asset class there is: real estate, real-estate derivatives, stocks, debt, private equity. This follows on the heels of the bank's historically bad fourth quarter, when it took $5 billion in writedowns.

This time around, ING's insurance business alone lost 979 million euro. More than half of that figure came from a markdown in the value of insurance contracts written by the firm.

Overall, ING lost 793 million billion euro in the quarter. (The company first warned investors in January to prepare for an ugly fourth quarter.) A year ago, ING was in the black, with profits of 1.54 billion euro.

Among the few bright spots was ING's banking division, which booked a profit of 700 million euro. But even that last bit of news was tinged with a sense of gloom. ING attributed its banking arm's performance to larger numbers of investor-clients stashing cash in their accounts in order to ride out the economic storm.

The bank's New York-listed shares fell 11% Wednesday afternoon, changing hands at $9.46, off $1.15 on heavier-than-average volume. The company's shares had gone on a run since bottoming out in March at a 52-week low of $3.02.

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