Thomas J. Sheeran

CLEVELAND: Regional banking company KeyCorp reported a 30 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit Tuesday amid sharp declines in interest income and investment fees.


Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO, said that despite an “extremely difficult operating environment,” quarterly results showed continued improvement in credit quality and the third consecutive quarter of growth in KeyCorp’s commercial, financial and agricultural loan portfolio.


The Cleveland-based bank said net income fell to $194 million, or 20 cents per share, in the October-December quarter, from $279 million, or 32 cents per share, a year earlier.


The results also reflected a $24 million charge for a lawsuit escrow deposit.


KeyCorp said it earned 21 cents per share from continuing operations. Analysts surveyed by research firm FactSet had forecast 20 cents per share.


Key stock has traded in a range of $5.59 to $9.77 over the past 52 weeks.


For the year, KeyCorp reported net income of $813 million, or 87 cents per share, compared with $390 million, or 44 cents per share, a year earlier.


KeyCorp’s loan portfolio improved, with nonperforming loans declining 1.5 percent to $727 million. Nonperforming assets declined to $859 million.