Among other large regional lenders, two stand out with stronger third-quarter loan growth. However, the comparisons are not necessarily fair, considering their differing geographic footprints.

U.S. Bancorp ( USB) of Minneapolis on Wednesday reported core loan growth of 2.2% during the third quarter from the second quarter, with average loans growing 7.5% year over year.

Huntington Bancshares ( HBAN) of Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday reported sequential loan growth of 2% during the third quarter, with average loans growing 5% year over year.

"BB&T posted solid results in a challenging environment this quarter," said CEO Kelly King in the company's earnings release. "Our 7% year-over-year growth in adjusted earnings was driven by a substantial improvement in credit quality to the best levels in almost six years," he said.

King said that BB&T was "pleased to achieve 3% annualized loan growth in a sluggish economic environment," and added that "While average total deposits were lower this quarter, noninterest-bearing deposits grew 8% annualized consistent with our mix improvement goals."

BB&T's coveted noninterest bearing deposits totaled $34.846 billion as of Sept .30 and made up 27% of total deposits as of Sept. 30, increasing from 24% a year earlier.

Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin, in a note to clients following the earnings release, called BB&T's third-quarter results "a bit soft," and predicted Thursday's market reaction would "be dictated by management's commentary on the expense trajectory" during the earnings conference call with analysts," which started at 8 a.m. EDT.

Usdin wrote that BB&T's "affiliate restructuring, along with lower future mortgage-related and regulatory costs, should provide a path for additional improvement over the next few quarters."

He rates BB&T a "hold," with a price target of $36.00.

BB&T's shares were down 1% in premarket trading to $33.92.

BBT Chart BBT data by YCharts

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

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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 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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