The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage. NEW YORK ( Trefis) -- Capital One ( COF) reported better-than-expected third-quarter results on Thursday, driven by lower provisions for loan losses and increased interest income. The bank's loan balance increased by $987 million to $130 billion in the quarter, due to a rise in commercial, auto and credit card loans. Capital One also reported a 13 basis-point improvement in its net interest margin largely due to a lower cost of funds in the quarter. Net income for the third quarter increased to $813 million from $803 million in the same period last year. Competitors Bank of America ( BAC), Citigroup ( C) and American Express ( AXP) also reported earnings in the past week. In June, Capital One announced plans to buy the U.S. online banking operations of ING Direct, but the deal has received criticism from U.S. lawmakers and consumers who argue that it would create another "too big to fail" bank. Capital One plans to complete the deal by the end of 2011 or early 2012. The company also plans to complete its purchase of HSBC's credit card portfolio by mid-2012. Our price estimate for Capital One stands at $58, roughly 40% above the current market price. See our full analysis of Capital One here.