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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Discover Financial Services

(DFS) - Get Discover Financial Services Report

announced earnings of $649 million for the third quarter on Thursday, or $1.18 per share, roughly two and a half times the $261 million, or 47 cents, it earned a year ago.

Analysts had been looking for a gain of 88 cents per share.

"Our strong capital position has allowed us to continue to invest in growth," said Chairman and CEO David Nelms.

Discover earned $649 million in the quarter.

Discover's earnings were up from $1.09 per share in the prior quarter. Sales of $26.3 billion set a new record, beating the previous record set last quarter by 9%.

Discover's loan book grew 8% from a year ago to $54.1 billion, and rose 3% from the second quarter. Credit card loans were up 2% from a year ago and 3% from last quarter.

The company also cited signs of credit quality improvement. The delinquency rate for credit card loans over 30 days past due, for example, hit a record low of 2.43%, Discover said.

Shares were up 1.97% to $25.84 a few minutes after the opening bell on Thursday. Shares were up 1.97% to $25.84 a few minutes after the opening bell on Thursday, even as many large cap financials, including

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Visa

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American Express

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were down by at least 2%.

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Written by Dan Freed in New York

.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.