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Tickers in this Article: FITB
When Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq:FITB) releases its third quarter earnings on Thursday, October 18, 2012, analysts are expecting a 2.5% drop in earnings from a year ago. The consensus estimate is 39 cents per share, down from earnings of 40 cents per share a year ago.

Investors care about earnings because they drive stock prices. Strong earnings generally result in the stock price moving up and vice versa. SEE: Everything Investors Need To Know About Earnings

What to Expect: In the last 90 days, this has risen from 36 cents. For the fiscal year, analysts are expecting earnings of $1.61 per share.

Revenue for the quarter is expected to be $1.57 billion, short of last year's reported figure of $1.72 billion by 8.7%. Revenue of $6.33 billion is expected for the fiscal year.

Company Performance: The last four quarters have shown average revenue decline of 2.6%. The third quarter of the last fiscal year marked the biggest decline of 11.9% from the year-earlier quarter.

The company's earnings have been rising for the last eight quarters, and for the last four, net income has increased year-over-year by an average of 32.7%.

FITB's P/E ratio of 9.7 falls below the industry average of 11.83. Companies with low P/E ratios may find it easier to surprise the market to the upside, even if their financial performance is not as strong as that of companies with high P/E ratios. A simple P/E ratio can reveal the stock's real market value and show how the valuation compares to its industry group or a benchmark like the S&P 500 Index. A high P/E ratio indicates a stock that is expensive, while a low P/E ratio indicates a stock that is cheap. SEE: Understanding The P/E Ratio

Over the past quarter, the stock price has increased from $13.92 on July 17, 2012 to $15.27. Fifth Third's best recent streak was when its price gained $1.82 per share between August 3, 2012 and October 11, 2012.

The Competition: Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company which conducts its lending, deposit gathering, transaction processing and service advisory activities through its subsidiaries. Analysts generally consider Fifth Third a hold, with 13 of 24 analysts rating it as such.

The company's closest competitor in the regional banks industry is Wells (WFC). Analysts are less optimistic about Fifth Third than about Wells. Twenty out of 26 analysts rate the latter a buy compared to 10 of 24 for the former.

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