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Huntington CEO Discusses Credit Card Play and 'Very Strong' Q3 (Update 1)

The new card is called the "voice card," and if a customer forgoes rewards, the annual percentage rate is 3% lower than the rewards rate. The lowest available rate for the nonrewards option is currently 6.99%.

Third-quarter noninterest income totaled $250.5 million, which includes the one-time $34 million gain from pension curtailment. In comparison, non-interest income totaled $248.7 million in the second quarter and $261.1 million in the third quarter of 2013.

Mortgage banking income for the third quarter declined 30% to $23.6 million from $33.7 million in the second quarter, and was down 47% from $44.6 million in the third quarter of 2012. This follows the industry trend, as the wave of U.S. mortgage loan refinancing applications has been curtailed, as long-term interest rates have risen.

Huntington said its "broad-based growth" had offset more than half of the decline in mortgage income. Service charges on deposit accounts -- "mostly commercial fees," according to Steinour -- were up 7% sequentially and 8% year-over-year, to $72.9 million in the third quarter. The "other income" line item was up 31% sequential and year-over-year to $33.7 million, which Steinour says was mainly commercial loan fees.

The bank's core deposit growth was flat, as maturing CDs offset growth in money market deposit accounts. Huntington saw noninterest bearing demand deposits continue to increase, by 2% quarter-over-quarter and 6% year-over-year, to an average of $13.1 billion in the third quarter.

Steinour says the company "had expected a $10 million increase in expenses for the third quarter, but the increase was actually $2 million."

"The combination of driving revenue growth and actively managing the expenses resulted in a very strong quarter for us."

When asked about the branch closings, Steinour says "Like any good retailer, we always look at our distribution. We will have more branches open this year than we will close, so there will be a net increase in branches."

Huntington's shares closed at $8.60 Wednesday, returning 37% this year. The shares trade for 12.1 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of 71 cents.

The shares were down slightly in early morning trading, to $8.56.

Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin in a note following the earnings release attributed Huntington's earnings beat to "a larger than expected reserve release."

Huntington's loan loss reserves declined by $67 million during the third quarter. The company's provision for credit losses -- the amount added to reserves, which directly lowers pretax earnings -- declined to $11.4 million in the third quarter, from $24.7 million the previous quarter and $37.0 million a year earlier.

According to Usdin "The company noted that the provision was below its long-term expectations and we would expect this to normalize going forward," which will hurt earnings.

The analyst rates Huntington a "buy," with a $9 price target.

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Interested in more on Huntington Bancshares? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

>Contact by Email.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.
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