Fifth Third Bancorp

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If you're an income investor looking for exposure to the financial sector, I'm a fan of Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB). It's not just that shares have outperformed the S&P 500 by close to a third since I named the firm one of 4 Banks You Should Still Buy -- no, Fifth Third is a regional banking stock that's got a big advantage over the massive national banks that most investors are focusing on right now.

One of them is fee income. Around 40% of FITB's income came from stable, fee-based businesses in the last year, namely payment processing fees. That exposure to fees means that Fifth Third's income statement isn't as susceptible to the economic ebb and flow (or the Fed's rate policy decisions) as most of its peers are. Of course, it's still a bank, with more than 1,300 branches spread across the South and the Midwest.

>>5 Banks Cutting Their Way to Bigger Profit

The firm took some knocks from its positioning back in 2008, but since then, FITB has shored up its loan book and gone back to solid financial performance. A history of running a tight ship bodes well as the firm brings in higher profits in 2012.

With FITB's dividend currently sitting at 8 cents, a 2.3% yield, I think that this stock can afford to hike its dividend in 2012.

Fifth Third shows up on a recent list of 4 Large Bank Stock Picks From Deutsche Bank.

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