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Huntington Bancshares 2Q Profit Surges Amid Lower Provisions

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Huntington Bancshares Inc.'s (HBAN) second-quarter earnings surged absent prior-year charges and as the regional bank reported that its provisions for potential loan losses fell to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2007. The industry has continued to benefit this year as the amount set aside to cover souring loans has continued to decrease. The Ohio-based Huntington returned to profitability last year after a long string of losses during the recession. In the latest quarter, Huntington's loan-loss provisions declined to $35.8 million from $193.4 million a year earlier and $49.4 million in the first quarter. Chairman and Chief Executive Stephen D. Steinour said that despite the improvement in credit quality, credit metrics remain elevated. However, the bank expects to see continued improvement in souring loans and net charge-offs, with "several credit-related performance metrics returning to more normal levels around the middle of next year." The lender also said it expects its overall profit to increase from "the second quarter level throughout the rest of the year, primarily reflecting modest revenue growth and disciplined expense control." Huntington reported a profit of $145.9 million, or 16 cents a share, up from $48.8 million, or 3 cents a share, a year earlier. The prior year included a 7-cent negative impact related to troubled mortgage loans bought in 2009 from Franklin Credit Management Corp. Revenue decreased 1.6% to $659.1 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast earnings of 15 cents on revenue of $653 million. Net charge-offs, or loans lenders don't think are collectible, were down at 1.01% of average loans from 3.01% a year earlier and 1.73% in the previous quarter. Nonperforming loans, those near default, declined to 1.57%--the lowest level since the third-quarter of 2008--from 3.25% and 1.66%, respectively. Shares closed Wednesday at $6.31 and were inactive premarket. -By Tess Stynes, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2481; Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com

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