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CIT Group’s Earnings Fall on Drop in Interest Income

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Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- CIT Group Inc., the business lender led by John A. Thain, said fourth-quarter earnings fell from the previous period on $32 million in restructuring costs and lower interest income.

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. chief executive officer who was hired as CIT’s CEO 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.

“Even as we fix things, we then have to demonstrate that they’re not only fixed but sustainable,” Thain said on a conference call with analysts.

Shares of the company, which gained 2.2 percent this year through yesterday, fell 41 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $47.74 in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange at 9:31 a.m.

Total interest income dropped to $754 million from $838.1 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30, CIT said.

Aircraft Sales

Total assets declined $2.5 billion during the quarter ending Dec. 31, to $51 billion, following the sale of energy-related assets, several aircraft and a private student-loan portfolio, according to the company’s statement. Full-year net income was $517 million, or $2.58 per share.

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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