Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM), formally SLM Corporation, today released fourth-quarter 2012 and full-year 2012 financial results. Highlights of the year included a 22 percent increase in private education loan originations to $3.3 billion, decreased delinquency rates, the distribution of $237 million of common stock dividends and the repurchase of 58 million common shares. “Our key 2012 objectives were to grow the private loan franchise, make distributions from our legacy FFELP business, and maintain strong capital and reserves. We accomplished all three, and we continue on this course,” said Albert L. Lord, vice chairman & CEO. “As expected, charge-offs accelerated in the fourth quarter largely due to recent reductions in forbearance. We still view the economy warily and commit to help customers manage their borrowing and succeed in its payoff.” For the fourth-quarter 2012, GAAP net income was $348 million ($.74 diluted earnings per share), compared with $511 million ($.99 diluted earnings per share) for the year-ago quarter. For 2012, GAAP net income was $939 million ($1.90 diluted earnings per share), compared with $633 million ($1.18 diluted earnings per share) for 2011. Core earnings for the quarter were $257 million ($.55 diluted earnings per share), compared with $268 million ($.51 diluted earnings per share) for the year-ago quarter. Core earnings for the year were $1.06 billion ($2.16 per diluted earnings per share), compared with $977 million ($1.83 per diluted earnings per share) for 2011. Fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 core earnings included higher debt repurchase gains of $43 million and $81 million, respectively, and lower pre-provision net interest income of $59 million and $246 million, respectively. Full-year 2012 core earnings benefitted from a $215 million lower loan loss provision and a $104 million reduction in operating expenses. Sallie Mae provides core basis earnings because management makes its financial decisions on such measures. The changes in GAAP net income are driven by the same core earnings items discussed above as well as changes in mark-to-market unrealized gains and losses on derivative contracts and amortization and impairment of goodwill and intangible assets that are recognized in GAAP, but not in core earnings results. Fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 GAAP results included gains of $128 million and losses of $194 million, respectively, resulting from derivative accounting treatment that is excluded from core earnings results. In the year-ago periods, these amounts were gains of $377 million and losses of $540 million, respectively.