PNC Financial Surprises With Credit Improvements

Updated from 8:33 a.m. ET to reflect Jefferies comment and opening share prices.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- PNC Financial (PNC) beat third-quarter earnings estimates on the top and bottom line, as the Pittsburgh-based lender was able to book earnings growth in an environment where revenue fell about 7% from year-ago levels.

PNC reported $1 billion in net income for the third quarter, or a $1.79 in diluted earnings per share, a near 10% rise from the third quarter of 2012. The bank reported revenue of $3.9 billion, a 4% year-over-year drop.

Those earnings significantly beat Wall Street consensus estimates on the top and bottom lines. PNC was forecast to earn $1.61 a share in earnings on $3.88 billion in quarterly revenue, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Ken Usdin, a banking analyst at Jefferies, said PNC beat earnings estimates on its improving credit profile, expense controls and core earnings that held up in line with expectations. PNC released $87 million in loan loss reserves for the quarter and provided guidance of up to $225 million in fourth-quarter releases. Both figures were better than Usdin's estimates and continue a trend of improving credit quality across the U.S. banking sector that is helping to stabilize industry-wide earnings.

"PNC continued to make significant progress on our strategic priorities as we advanced our efforts to deepen relationships with customers in the third quarter," William S. Demchak, PNC Financial CEO said in a statement. "Even in the face of an environment that is challenging the entire industry, our businesses are successfully growing loans, and we are leveraging our high-quality balance sheet to drive revenue."

PNC Financial shares opened Wednesday trading up over 2% to $74 a share. Year-to-date shares have risen nearly 25% outperforming the S&P 500.

On Wednesday, Bank of America (BAC) reported it earned $2.5 billion or 20 cents per share in the third quarter on revenue of $21.7 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had been looking for earnings of 21 cents per share on revenue of $22 billion. Bank of America earned $340 million, or zero per share in the third quarter of 2012.

"The economy and business climate will improve even more quickly as conditions normalize, and we are well positioned to benefit from that," said Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York.

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