Amid a difficult earnings season for banks Capital One Finance Corp. (NYSE:COF) announced its earnings for the three months ending in March 31st today. The company showed earnings of $2.72 on revenue of $4.93 billion for the period. Analysts had expected the company to announce $1.38 per share in this report. The same analysts saw the company’s most likely outcome as $4.36 billion in the first quarter.

The credit card industry, which Capital One is best known for, has reported better outcomes overall in the last three months. American Express (NYSE:AXP), the company’s biggest competitor announced better than expected earnings yesterday due to increased customer spending and a reduction int the levels of delinquency seen in its credit portfolio. American Express did manage to increase its revenue over analysts expectations in the quarter and even managed to slightly over shoot its sales in the first quarter of last year.

Another of the company’s major competitors Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) announced its earnings this morning and the results blew aside Wall Street’s estimates giving the company a boost though trading was mixed on the company’s stock today.

Capital One’s acquisition of ING direct, an online bank, has led to it being more directly in competition with company’s like Bank of America and Citigroup. By deposits the company is now the sixth largest bank in America. That buy was just closed in this quarter by the company as it seeks to expand in the financial services business.

Compared to last year the numbers aren’t great for the company. In the first quarter of last year, 2011, the company earned $2.24 per share and managed to take in revenues of $4.7 billion. Some financials. like Goldman Sachs, had managed to take in less revenue, a 16% fall in the case of that company, but still increase earnings by cutting costs in operations. Capital One will have to follow a similar strategy in order to revitalize its business.

The company’s stock has been performing relatively well recently, trading close to its twelve month high. Investors are hoping the company can grow its customer base this year on good economic indicators and allow that to increase revenue naturally as the economy recovers from its slump. Reliance on the state of the economy is manifest, particularly among companies that rely on credit for revenue like Capital One. With good management the company’s prospects will improve with the economy.