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Fifth Third Bancorp earnings up 21 percent in fourth quarter

CINCINNATI - Fifth Third Bancorp said Tuesday its earnings increased 21 percent in the fourth quarter to $385.5 million, compared with last year's $319.1 million.

Earnings per share of 65 cents increased 18 percent from 55 cents a year ago for the company, whose flagship operation is Fifth Third Bank. The earnings met the expectation of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.

For the year, earnings declined 4 percent to $1.09 billion from $1.14 billion a year ago, with earnings per share of $1.86, down 6 percent from last year's $1.98.

The year-end earnings of $2.37 per share barely beat Wall Street's estimate of $2.36.

Fifth Third's purchase of Old Kent Financial Corp. in 2001, the company's biggest acquisition ever, cut into earnings for the year. The acquisition allowed Fifth Third to enter the Chicago and Detroit banking markets.

The Cincinnati-based company has banking operations in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and West Virginia.

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