The company, with $8 billion in assets, has seen it shares drop 46% this year. The stock rallied from March until May, but pulled back when United Bankshares announced lower second-quarter earnings from $21.4 million in loan charge-offs. During the third quarter, charge-offs declined to $4.9 million, the lowest in more than a year. Earnings recovered, with net income of $17.4 million, or 40 cents a share, and a return on average assets of 0.88%. While there was still lot of room for improvement in profits, the company boasted a net interest margin of 3.63%, down slightly from 3.67% in June and 3.71% a year earlier. The nonperforming-assets ratio was 1.45% as of Sept. 30, up from 1.31% in the previous quarter and 0.77% a year earlier. United Bankshares paid out much less in dividends than the company earned during the first three quarters of 2009. Over the previous three years, the dividend payout ratio was below 60%. According to SNL, the company's tangible common equity ratio was a decent 5.84% as of Sept. 30. United Bankshares reported a tier 1 leverage ratio of 8.93% and total risk-based capital ratio (which reflects loan quality and reserve coverage) as of Sept. 30, considerably higher than the 5% and 10% ratios required for most banks to be considered well-capitalized under regulatory guidelines. For United Bankshares, the dividend appears safe. The stock is trading at 10.3 times current earnings and 1.65 times tangible book value.