3. Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB) Fifth Third grabbed 1.8% of the mortgage origination market in the third quarter, good for 13th place, and 37% better than 2010. CFO Dan Poston attributed the bank's improved net interest margin and net interest income in part to growth in the residential mortgage portfolio, though he also cited growth in commercial and industrial, credit card and auto loans. FBR reiterated its "outperform" rating and $15 price target following Fifth Third's fourth-quarter earnings release on January 20, 2012. The bank beat FBR's earnings estimate primarily due to higher net interest income on higher loan balances and lower provision expense. Fifth Third grew loan balances by 5% on a period end, which FBR called "one of the strongest quarters for balance sheet growth among banks." Fifth Third shares underperformed peers after reporting earnings as, according to FBR, "some investors saw the decline in fee income as a sign that the company may not be able to grow earnings as fast as anticipated. However, we would note, Fifth Third has outperformed many regional bank peers by 10%-20% over the last few months, and anything but perfection in in the fourth quarter seemed to be priced into shares."