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Huntington Bancshares Posts 4Q Profit;Loan Loss Provision Down

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Huntington Bancshares Inc. (HBAN) swung to a fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts' estimates as revenue jumped and the bank set aside sharply less to cover loan losses. The Ohio regional bank has been reporting improved results lately as, like many other banks, it has set aside less to cover potential losses on improved credit quality. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services last month lifted Huntington from junk territory with a two-notch upgrade, citing its improved performance and plans to repay government rescue funds. In December, the bank repaid the $1.4 billion it received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program after raising $1.22 billion by selling stock and debt. Huntington posted a profit of $122.9 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $369.7 million, or 56 cents a share. The repurchase of government-rescue capital cut the latest result by 7 cents, while the prior-year period included 9 cents in gains from early debt extinguishment and tax impacts. Revenue rose 9.8% to $679.5 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast a profit of 8 cents on $668 million in revenue. Such estimates typically exclude one-time items and other adjustments Loan-loss provisions were $87 million, down from $894 million a year earlier and $119.2 million in the prior quarter. Net charge-offs, loans lenders don't think are collectible, fell to 1.82% of average loans and leases from 4.8% a year earlier and 1.98% in the prior quarter. Nonperforming assets, those near default, were 2.21%, compared with 5.57% and 2.94%, respectively. Shares closed Wednesday at $7 and were inactive premarket. -By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240;

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