WILMINGTON, Del. -- MBNA Corp., the world's third-largest credit-card issuer, said yesterday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 34 percent as it added customers through marketing agreements and acquisitions.
MBNA's net income rose to $320 million, or 38 cents a share, from $238 million in the year-earlier period. That beat analysts' expectations of 37 cents.
The company, which offers co-branded credit cards with universities, sports teams, professional and special interest groups, formed 120 new marketing agreements in the quarter and added 3.5 million customers and 3 million accounts. Managed loans rose 21 percent to $72.3 billion from $59.7 billion in the year-earlier period.
MBNA's results were boosted by a string of credit-card portfolio acquisitions in the past year, including its purchase of $1.5 billion in card loans from SunTrust Banks Inc. in November. It bought several smaller portfolios from regional banks earlier.
Credit quality improved as delinquent loans fell to 4.45 percent of the total from 4.67 percent in the third quarter. But the net interest margin narrowed to 7.1 percent from 7.33 percent.