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Tickers in this Article: BBT
When BB&T (NYSE:BBT) releases its third quarter earnings on Thursday, October 18, 2012, it is expected to report earnings that are up 34.6% from a year ago. The consensus estimate is 70 cents per share, up from earnings of 52 cents per share a year ago.

Earnings are perhaps the single most studied number in a company's financial statements because they show a company's profitability. SEE: Everything Investors Need To Know About Earnings

What to Expect: Despite rising from 68 cents over the past three months, the consensus estimate hasn't changed in the last 30 days. Analysts are expecting earnings of $2.77 per share for the fiscal year.

Revenue is expected to exceed last year's figure of $2.44 billion by 0.4% and come in at $2.45 billion for the quarter. Revenue for the fiscal year is expected to come in at $9.73 billion.

Company Performance: Over the last four quarters, revenue has increased by an average 0.8%. The biggest increase was in the first quarter, up 9.5% from the year-earlier quarter.

The P/E ratio for BBT is 13.4, above the industry average of 11.83. A company with a high P/E ratio will eventually have to live up to the high rating by substantially increasing its earnings, or the price will need to drop. A company's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) provides a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: Profit With The Power Of Price-To-Earnings

Over the past quarter, the stock price has risen to $32.34 from $31.88 on July 17, 2012. BB&T's best recent streak was when its price gained $1.55 per share between August 23, 2012 and September 11, 2012.

The Competition: BB&T is a financial holding company which, through its subsidiary Branch Banking and Trust, provides a range of banking services and loans to individuals and businesses. Analysts generally consider BB&T a hold, with 19 of 29 analysts rating it as such. This marks a small improvement, as the number of buy ratings has risen slightly over the past three months.

The company's closest competitor in the regional banks industry is Wells (WFC). Analysts are less optimistic about BB&T than about Wells. Twenty out of 26 analysts rate the latter a buy compared to nine of 29 for the former.

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