Fifth Third CEO Kevin Kabat said "It was a strong earnings quarter for Fifth Third," irrespective of the Vantiv IPO, as the company continued "to see solid growth in commercial lending volumes and fee income results were particularly strong in the mortgage banking, corporate banking, and investment advisory businesses."

The strong mortgage results reflected "higher gain on sale margins and deliveries of previously originated mortgages."

Fifth Third's shares closed at $14.16 Wednesday, returning 12% year-to-date, following an 11% decline return during 2011.

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The shares trade for nine times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $1.53. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is $1.44.

Based on an eight-cent quarterly payout, the shares have s dividend yield of 2.26%.

Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin rates Fifth Third a "Buy," with a $16 price target, and said Thursday that first-quarter "positives include strong loan growth (+1.4% Q-Q) and positive operating leverage," while "negatives include flat liability costs and a sequential decline in mortgage banking production."

The analyst added that excluding one-time items, "operating fees were up $55mm Q-Q, mainly on better mortgage banking results (up $48mm)," and that "better gain-on-sale margins drove the mortgage banking beat as production volume was actually down Q-Q ($6.4B vs. $7.1B last quarter). "

Usdin estimates that Fifth Third will earn $1.35 a share for all of 2012, followed by 2013 EPS of $1.40.

Interested in more on Fifth Third Bancorp? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

To contact the writer, click here: Philip van Doorn.

To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/PhilipvanDoorn.
Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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