CIT Fourth-Quarter Profit Falls From Third Quarter

(Correct date in the second paragraph.)

CIT Group Inc., the business lender led by John A. Thain, said fourth-quarter earnings fell from the previous period as interest income declined and credit costs increased.

Net income dropped to $75 million, or 37 cents a share, from $115.8 million, or 58 cents, in the third quarter, New York-based CIT said in a statement today. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for 41 cents in adjusted earnings. The company didn’t provide results for the fourth-quarter of 2009 because it was reorganizing during the period, said Curt Ritter, a CIT spokesman.

Thain, 55, the former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO who was hired as CIT’s chief executive a year ago, has been shrinking the company and looking for less expensive sources of funding while aiming to keep a viable base of customers. CIT earlier this month announced a restatement for the first three quarters of 2010, increasing net income by about $25 million.

“I am pleased with the significant progress we have made this past year,” Thain said in the statement. “We will continue to serve the small business and middle-market sectors, the engines of economic growth in the U.S.”

CIT is seeking to recover from a bankruptcy that wiped out $2.3 billion in U.S. bailout money. Once the biggest independent commercial lender in the U.S., CIT entered bankruptcy in November 2009 after racking up losses on home loans and being shut out of short-term capital markets.

The government lost its investment in the bankruptcy, and CIT had to submit to tighter supervision by regulators at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Doom in New York at jdoom1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Green at rgreen18@bloomberg.net

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