The bottom-line number for bank annuity income increased 4.5% to $781.7 million in the first quarter, according to the latest Michael White-ABIA Bank Annuity Fee Income Report, which came out today.

But that increase was due to a bigger sample group. That is, there are more institutions that report their numbers this year, Michael White said in a phone interview. Savings associations and thrifts were not included in last year's numbers.

And once those institutions are excluded from this year's numbers for an apples-to-apples comparison, a clearer picture emerges of the pattern of annuity income for a bank. And that picture is not very pretty.

In that "same-store sales" view, annuity income was really just $705.5 million, a decline of 5.8% from last year, White said.

Another negative note in the current report was the decrease in the number of large institutions that showed growth in annuity fee income. Of the 178 on track to earn at least $250,000 in annuity fee income, nearly 40% achieved double-digit growth in the quarter. That's down from 63.4% in the first quarter last year. "Those findings are troublesome, particularly since they follow the significant slide in the fourth quarter 2011 annuity income we previously reported," said Kevin McKechnie, executive director of the ABIA, in a press release.

Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Raymond James and Bank of America led all banks and thrift holding companies in annuity commission income in the first quarter, according to the report. Among institutions with assets between $1 billion and $10 billion, leaders included Stifel Financial, SWS Group and National Penn Bancshares. Among those with assets between $500 million and $1 billion, leaders were First Command Financial, Liberty Shares and Nodaway Valley Bancshares.