Huntington Bancshares reported solid revenue expansion during the fourth quarter, although the bottom line was essentially unchanged from the third-quarter, because of expenses tied to regulatory stress tests and because of a higher effective tax rate.
Looking ahead, Steinour says "our activities are showing that the underlying growth of the Midwest remains very sound. I think the Midwest will continue to lead. Our results for the year were many multiples of GDP growth, and that is with certain portfolios potentially being reduced. Noninterest income increased to $297.7 million in the fourth quarter, from $261.1 million in the third quarter and $229.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, with mortgage banking revenue providing the bulk of the increase. Fourth-quarter mortgage revenue totaled $61.7 million, increasing from $44.6 million the previous quarter and $24.1 million a year earlier. The third-quarter mortgage income increase included a $10 million net benefit from the hedging of mortgage servicing rights. The company also booked $20.7 million in gains on loan sales during the fourth quarter, including $14.1 million in gains from an auto loan securitization completed in October. In comparison, the company reported gains on loan sales of $6.6 million in the third quarter and $2.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Huntington's solid fourth-quarter revenue improvements were offset "by a $12.3 million, or 3%, increase in noninterest expense and $26.1 million, or 92%, increase in the provision for income taxes." During the third quarter, the company realized a state deferred tax valuation allowance benefit of $19.5 million. The company also said that "At December 31, 2012, we had a net deferred tax asset of $203.9 million," and that "was no disallowed deferred tax asset for regulatory capital purposes." Steinour says that the increased expenses during the fourth quarter were tied to the company's efforts to comply with new regulatory requirements for annual stress tests. While the company will not have to file a full Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review capital plan until 2014, Steinour says "we invested as if we had to file the CCAR this year," and "we will not have that expense going forward." Summing up Huntington's 2012 performance, the CEO says "our goal is consistent performance. We're not doing things to boost earnings in any given year or quarter."