SunTrust Banks CEO Discusses Q4 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

SunTrust Banks (STI)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 21, 2011 8:00 am ET

Executives

Thomas Freeman - Chief Risk Officer and Corporate Executive Vice President

Kristopher Dickson -

Company Speaker -

William Rogers - President and Chief Operating Officer

Mark Chancy - Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Executive Vice President

James Wells - Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

Analysts

Christopher Gamaitoni

Presentation

Operator

SunTrust Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I'd like to introduce Mr. Kris Dickson. He is the Director of Investor Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Kristopher Dickson

Good morning, and welcome to SunTrust Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. Thanks for joining us. In addition to the press release, we've also provided a presentation that covers the topics we plan to address during our call today. Slide 2 outlines the content, which includes an overview of the quarter, financial results and a review of credit quality. The press release, presentation and detailed financial schedules are available on our website, www.suntrust.com. This information can be accessed by going to the Investor Relations section of the website.

With me today, among other members of our executive team, are Jim Wells, our Chief Executive Officer; Bill Rogers, our President and Chief Operating Officer; Mark Chancy, our Chief Financial Officer; and Tom Freeman, our Chief Risk Officer. Jim will start the call with an overview of the quarter. Mark will then discuss the financial performance, and Tom will conclude with a review of asset quality. At the conclusion of the formal remarks, we'll open the session for questions.

Before I get started, I need to remind you our comments today may include forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainty, and actual results could differ materially. We list the factors that might cause actual results to differ materially in our press release and SEC filings, which are available on our website.

Further, we do not intend to update any forward-looking statements to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made, and we disclaim any responsibility to do so. During the call, we will discuss non-GAAP financial measures in talking about the company's performance. You can find a reconciliation of these measures to GAAP financial measures in our press release and on our website.

Finally, SunTrust is not responsible for and does not edit nor guarantee the accuracy of our earnings teleconference transcripts provided by third parties. The only authorized live and archived webcasts are located on our website.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Jim.

James Wells

Good morning, everybody, and I'm glad to have you with us this morning, and thank you, Chris. I think you have great skills displayed in there reading of the synopsis of the forward-looking statement declaration. I'm impressed. Also, I'd like to thank Steve Shriner, who I hope is on the phone this morning as well. He has accepted the position of Chief Retail Credit Officer in our Corporate Risk group. And I want to thank Steve for a great work over the past few years.

And before discussing the fourth quarter, I would like to take a moment to share a few accomplishments of SunTrust in 2010, as we finish the year on a much more positive note than it began. A few examples. We returned to profitability during the year and posted a full year profit before preferred dividends. Our low-cost deposits grew 10% over the course of the year and demonstrating our success in increasing client loyalty and growing market share. Revenue expanded and benefited from a 17 basis point expansion in the net interest margin, as well as from solid performance from several of our key businesses. Credit quality improved throughout the year with quarterly declines in net charge-offs, delinquencies and nonperforming loans. And our capital ratios remains strong and even expanded.

Returning to the fourth quarter, our earnings of $114 million or $0.23 per share improved compared to last year, as well as last quarter, mostly driven by a lower provision with the result of improved credit quality and solid revenue. We're pleased with the diversity of our revenue sources and continued to improvement in credit quality. Net charge-offs, nonperforming loans, nonperforming assets and early-stage delinquencies all declined compared to the third quarter and are significantly lower than the fourth quarter of 2009.

While our financial performance is still not to the level that we are as shareholders desire, we did make additional progress in demonstrating improved results and in executing our strategies to drive a longer-term growth. The operating environment unquestionably remains challenging and obviously, it's been an active period from a regulatory and legislative standpoint.

So let's turn to Slide 4. As we've said previously, financial regulation will impact our financial results going forward. Some new proposals were issued during the quarter, and the effects of certain aspects of regulatory reform are becoming clearer. This slide highlights selected items of interest, though it's not intended to be all-inclusive. Our guidance regarding deposit of service charges, Reg E issues and derivatives remains unchanged and outlined in the chart. It appears the Fed certainly follow the letter of the Dodd-Frank law, with its recent proposal on debit interchange. Like most in the industry, we are very concerned about any government efforts to impose price controls. And we additionally believe that Fed's proposal does not adequately recognize many of the costs associated with providing debit card services. We, of course, have been actively working to make our views known to the regulators, as well as to Congress.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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