published Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Unit sale hurts Region’s profits

Regions Financial Corp., the parent company of Chattanooga’s third-biggest bank, lost $602 million in the fourth quarter after taking a goodwill impairment charge of $731 million from the sale of its Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. subsidiary to Raymond James.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based bank holding company said Tuesday that the quarter’s loss of 11 cents per share compared with earnings of 1 cent per diluted share a year ago.

Absent the goodwill impairment, however, earnings were helped by a lowered provision for loan losses in the quarter to $295 million, down from $682 million a year ago, on improved credit quality.

The total provision for losses was $1.5 billion for 2011 compared to $2.9 billion a year ago.

“Our core business performance improved as we achieved sustainable profitability on a continuing operations basis,” Regions CEO O.B. Grayson Hall told investors during a conference call Tuesday. “We have substantially improved our credit risk profile and further strengthened our balance sheet from a liquidity and capital standpoint.”

Shares of Regions gained 31 cents per share, or 6.3 percent, to close Tuesday at $5.23 per share in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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