As we head into earnings season, this is a good time to take a look at Ohio banks and savings and loans, continuing our series that has previously covered Florida, Georgia and California institutions.

According to


, one in every 410 households in Ohio received a foreclosure notice during the month, ranking it ninth of all U.S. states in May. The Cleveland and Toledo metro areas had the highest concentrations of foreclosure notices in the state.

With so many big banks in Ohio, let's start by looking at the 10 largest:


JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

is, of course, a New York holding company, its biggest bank charter is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, having moved into Bank One's offices there in 2004.

Not surprisingly, JPMorgan Chase Bank's earnings have suffered, with elevated provisions for loan-loss reserves over the past year. While the provision for loan-loss reserves for the first quarter was a whopper, at $3.7 billion, the bank reported net income of $2.1 billion, or a return on average assets (ROA) of 0.63% and a return on average equity (ROE) of 7.93%. While these earnings would be considered weak in better times, they look pretty good for 2008.

The holding company releases second quarter earnings results on Thursday. While it will probably have little effect on JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, it will be fascinating to see the effect of the Bear Stearns acquisition on the holding company's financials.

U.S. Bank, NA (the primary subsidiary of

U.S. Bancorp

(USB) - Get Report

) has fared better than many other regional banks. While the institution's charge-offs have ticked up over the past year and it has increased its quarterly provisions for loan-loss reserves, it has posted very strong earnings, with ROA hovering around 2% and ROE over 20% in four of the past five quarters, ending March 31.

U.S. Bank's loan-loss reserves covered 108.33% of nonperforming loans as of March 31. At least through the first quarter of 2008, the institution stood out with strong loan quality, relative to its peers, in its diversified loan portfolio.

With leverage and risk-based capital ratios of 6.20% and 10.68%, the bank was not holding excess capital, but so far, it has not been forced to cut its dividend on common stock or take other measures to shore up capital. In fact, the holding company increased its annual dividend from $1.60 per common share to $1.70 on June 17.

In order to be considered well capitalized under regulatory guidelines, a bank needs to maintain a leverage ratio of at least 5% and a risk-based capital ratio of at least 10%.

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.A) - Get Report

was the largest holder of U.S. Bancorp's common stock as of March 31, with 3.94% of shares outstanding, according to


. Shares have returned a negative 17.06% over the past year through Friday's market close, measuring up quite well against the S&P 500 Financials index, which returned a negative 47.76% over the same period.

The tribulations of National City Bank (held by

National City Corporation

( NCC)) have, of course, been discussed time and time again. We looked at the institution's financial condition last month, in our article on major banks' exposure to

nonperforming construction loans


KeyBank, NA (held by


(KEY) - Get Report

) was also mentioned in our

construction lending

article, since 13.05% of its construction portfolio was delinquent at least 30 days, as of March 31.


cut its dividend

in half, to $0.75 per share on June 2, and announced it was raising $1.5 billion in capital through a preferred offering. The offering of common and preferred stock was revised to $1.65 billion when it was priced the following day. These moves followed a court ruling against the holding company on the tax treatment of acquired leases, which was expected to lead to second quarter charges and accounting adjustments of over $1 billion.

There was a significant amount of insider buying of KeyCorp's common shares in late June, following the capital raise.

KeyBank's nonperforming assets comprised 1.28% of total assets as of March 31, up from 0.92% the previous quarter. Loan-loss reserves covered a very strong 108% of nonperforming loans.

Fifth Third Bancorp

(FITB) - Get Report

saw its shares trade at a 52-week low of $9.23 on June 18, when the company announced it would raise $1 billion in capital by issuing preferred shares and attempt to raise another $1 billion by selling assets. The company also cut its annual dividend by two thirds, to $0.60 per common share.

Shares have recovered since then, closing at $12.48 on Friday.

The holding company has two large bank charters, Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati, with $65 billion in total assets as of March 31, and Fifth Third Bank of Grand Rapids, Mich., with $54 billion in total assets.

The Cincinnati Charter had nonperforming assets at 1.24% of total assets as of March 31, with loan-loss reserves covering 69.93% of nonperforming loans.

Fifth Third's Grand Rapids charter has suffered more in the real estate downturn, with nonperforming assets of 2.27% as of March 31, with reserves covering 57.38% of problem loans. Fifth Third of Grand Rapids took a $62 million dollar loss for the first quarter, as it increased its quarterly provision for loan loss reserves.

When it announced the moves to raise capital, the holding company projected a leverage ratio for the holding company of 8.50% as of June 30, which compares to 8.28% as of March 31. Fifth Third also stated that it expects 2008 provisions for loan losses to exceed net loan charge-offs.

Back in September, I mentioned

Huntington Bancshares

(HBAN) - Get Report

, the holding company of Huntington National Bank, in an article entitled

Five Fetching Bank Stocks

. Of course, that turned out to be a lousy pick. By the time we published an


in February, the stock had fallen nearly 20%.

Huntington's shares closed at $5.64 Friday, with a negative total return of 71.12% over the past year. The shares hit a 52 week low of $4.94 on June 19. The following day, Huntington projected its second quarter loan loss provision would be about $55 million to $65 million, and would exceed net charge-offs for the quarter.

Huntington National Bank's nonperforming assets ratio was 1.02% as of March 31, and loan loss reserves covered 106.67% of nonperforming loans. The bank took a large hit in the fourth quarter of 2007, with a net loss of $224 million, when it added $473 million to loan loss reserves. In the first quarter, Huntington National was able to lower the quarterly provision for reserves to $92 million, enabling it to post positive earnings of $131 million.

Huntington raised a total of $569 million in new capital through a preferred stock offering completed in early May. Hopefully, the second quarter numbers will show continued improvement in earnings, along with stronger capital ratios.

AmTrust Bank

of Cleveland is a privately held thrift, and the most troubled institution on the above list. Over the past five quarters, nonperforming assets increased rapidly, to 7.09% of total assets as of March 31. Reserves covered just 18.67% of nonperformers. While the institution's capital ratios appeared rather strong with leverage and risk-based capital ratios of 7.53% and 12.53%, the ratio of nonperforming loans to capital & reserves was a very high 68.65%.

Net loan charge-offs for the first quarter totaled $40 million. While this was less than the $48 million the institution added to reserves for the quarter, it appears AmTrust will need to raise capital if the slide in loan quality continues.

AmTrust made the following statement: "The bank remains liquid and well capitalized as of our quarter ended June 30th, and does not comment on forward looking information."

FirstMerit Bank, NA, of Akron is held by

FirstMerit Corp


, which was another of our Five Fetching Bank Stocks back in September. Shares closed at $15.83 Friday, for a one year total return of negative 17.43%, compared to a negative 31.16% for the S&P 400 Midcap Financials index.

FirstMerit National Bank has fared quite well in a difficult environment, with a nonperforming assets ratio of just 0.44% as of March 31, which is slightly improved from a year earlier. Loan loss reserves covered 232.79% of nonperforming loans, and there was no sign of trouble ahead, since loans past due 30 days (but still performing) comprised just 0.56% of total assets as of March 31.

The institution's earnings have also held up, with ROA exceeding 1% and ROE exceeding 16% for the past five quarters. That is an excellent return on equity in this market.

Smallest on the list is First Financial Bank, NA, of Hamilton, which had total assets of $3.3 billion as of March 31. The institution is held by

First Financial Bancorp

(FFBC) - Get Report


First Financial Bank also maintained good loan quality, with a nonperforming assets ratio of 0.49% as of March 31, compared to 0.48% in December 2007 and 0.38% in March 2007. Loan loss reserves covered 195.78% of nonperforming loans as of March 31, and capital levels were strong, with a leverage ratio of 9.35% and a risk-based capital ratio of 12.82%.

Ohio Institutions with Weakest Asset Quality

Here are the 10 Ohio banks and thrifts with the highest nonperforming assets ratios as of March 31. AmTrust appears on this list as well.

In case you're wondering why Spring Valley Bank has a B+ financial strength rating, it's because the institution has so much capital. The bank's leverage ratio of 32.92% and risk-based capital ratio of 42.63%, along with its long history of good asset quality and strong earnings are factored into the rating.

Best Rated

There are 19 Ohio banks and thrifts with ratings of A- or higher. Here are the 10 ranked the highest:

Philip W. van Doorn joined Ratings., Inc., in February 2007. He is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. He also comments on industry and regulatory trends. Mr. van Doorn has fifteen years experience, having served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Florida, 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.