Fifth Third loses $160,000,000 in Q3 2009

And they’re spinning it as an improvement!

Fifth Third said it lost $160 million, or 20 cents per share, in the last three months of 2009. The consensus Wall Street forecast was a loss of 31 cents, according to Thomson Reuters’ analyst survey.

It was a big improvement for the parent of Fifth Third Bank — the 7th largest bank in Central Florida and 10th largest statewide. The Ohio bank lost $2.2 billion, or $3.78 per share, in 4th quarter 2008.

Fifth Third was one of Florida’s fastest growing banks during the real estate boom. Since the boom went bust, like many banks, it has scrambled to deal with bad real estate loans in Florida and other hard-hit states.

The bank said 53 percent of its bad loan chargeoffs in the fourth quarter involved loans in Florida and Michigan.

It absorbed $708 million in bad-loan writeoffs in the quarter, down from $1.6 billion in the year-earlier quarter, the bank said.

“Fourth-quarter credit trends were better than expected and showed encouraging signs of improvement,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Kabat said in a statement.

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