Regional banking company BB&T Corp. ( BBT) reported a sharp jump in fourth-quarter profit but fell just shy of analysts' expectations. Net income at the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company totaled $416.9 million, or 75 cents a share, compared with $305 million, or 55 cents a share, a year ago. Operating earnings totaled $415.8 million, or 75 cents a share, excluding $1.1 million in net after-tax merger-related gains. The company said year-ago results were negatively affected by merger-related and nonrecurring expenses, which collectively totaled $71.8 million on an after-tax basis. Analysts expected 76 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call. Average loans and leases totaled $67.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2004, an increase of 9.3%. Total noninterest income was up 17.4% to $548.2 million. Shares closed at $40.17 Thursday.