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Regions' earnings beat estimates as net interest margin widens

Regions Financial (RF) reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates as its net interest margin, a gauge of lending profitability, widened, Bloomberg reports.

Net income was $265 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a loss of $548 million, or 48 cents, a year earlier, when the lender posted a non-cash charge tied to the sale of the Morgan Keegan brokerage, the Birmingham-based bank said Tuesday in a statement. Excluding some one-time items, profit was 22 cents, compared with the 21-cent average estimate of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Regions’ net interest margin, the difference between what it pays on deposits and charges for loans, widened to 3.1 percent from 3.08 percent in both the third quarter and a year earlier.  told investors in November the bank’s margin could widen or narrow by two basis points. Loan growth is expected to be in the low single digits in 2013, Regions said Tuesday in a slide presentation.

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