5 Things You Didn't Know About Huntington Bancshares Incorporated

There is much more to the regional Midwestern bank than meets the eye.

Jun 24, 2014 at 6:00AM

Here's an interesting fact: Huntington Bancshares Incorporated (NASDAQ:HBAN) has a P/E ratio – that is pens-to-earnings ratio mind you! -- of .05.

Every year, Huntington's bank branches dole out 7,200,000 bank-branded pens in the company's effort of "liberating our pens from their ball chains" -- part of the bank's intense marketing efforts as of late. 

Here's five other things you probably didn't know about the regional Midwestern bank:

1. Consistently a leading SBA lender
Earlier this year, Huntington briefly took the lead in having the largest number of Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in the country, topping such nationwide lenders as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

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Being tops in small business lending is not uncommon for the bank. Since 2010, it has consistently been ranked third in number of 7(a) loans nationwide. On a more regional level, Huntington has already made over half of the total SBA loans in its footprint this year for a total of more than $226 million. 

2. Has a contrarian CEO
Stephen Steinour joined Huntington in the midst of the financial crisis and began doing the exact opposite of what it seemed such times called for.

Taking the bank's Fair Play philosophy to heart for its retail operations, Steinour gave customers a 24-hour grace period for overdrawing accounts in 2010, an industry first at the time. A year later he introduced "Asterisk-Free Checking," which waived checking account norms such as maintenance fees and a minimum balance. 

These are bold moves not only to be taken during a financial crisis, but to be maintained in an industry of rapidly increasing regulatory costs. So how has the bank done? Of course fees have taken a hit: noninterest income is down $1.9 million from 2010. Unfortunately, the marketing move hasn't attracted new deposits with totals decreasing 2.5% over the same period.

3. On a branch buying binge
As a way of boosting its bottom line, Bank of America has been shedding bank branches, 556 nationwide since 2012. Huntington is among the banks snatching them up, recently announcing it would be acquiring a total of 24 of the big bank's Michigan branches. 

This all has to do with Huntington's concerted efforts of beefing up its presence in the state, with a goal of increasing its number of branches there by 120. In addition to the Bank of America agreement, Huntington has been in the process of implementing a deal with the Meijer retail chain that will bring 80 in-store branches to the state by 2020. 

Currently, Huntington has 155 locations in Michigan, the second-most branches it has in any state in its six-state footprint. 

4. Acquires more than just banks
Talking about acquisitions, Huntington's take over of Union Commerce Bank brought with it more than expected. While going through storage from Union Commerce, a Huntington bank employee found some old checks with famous signatures. Among the collection was a check signed by Abraham Lincoln -- the day before he was assassinated! 

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Flickr / Believe Creative

Since then the bank has gone through several other acquisitions. Some of the more prominent deals include a merger with Sky Financial Group in 2007 and one with Camco Financial earlier this year. 

Both of these deals strengthened Huntington's presence in its headquartered state of Ohio. No luck with famous checks in these mergers.

5. Made it through CCAR
The Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) subjects banks' projected capital plans over the next nine quarters to stress tests to see if the company can survive a drastic downturn in the economy.

The tests caused quite a bit of trouble for bigger banks, but Huntington passed without any problems. Among the actions it was approved for are a 20% increase in the company's common stock quarterly dividend as well as up to $250 million in stock repurchases.

But don't expect anything just yet. Huntington was simply approved by the Fed for actions up to these amounts. The company still has to get approval from its board, which has yet to speak on how much cash will be returned to shareholders this year.

And now you know
Huntington does things a bit differently -- from the way it handled the financial crisis to the loans that make up its portfolio. However, the bank leverages its uniqueness and remains focused as it continues to expand throughout the Midwest.

As marketing campaigns play out and it waits to see the full impact of federal regulation one thing is for sure about Huntington -- its going to need some more pens! 

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David Post has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Huntington Bancshares, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo and has the following options: short June 2014 $48 puts on Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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