Huntington Bancshares Inc. swung to a third-quarter profit, beating analysts' estimates as credit quality improved sharply and revenue climbed.

"There was much to be pleased with" about the results, said Chairman and Chief Executive Stephen D. Steinour. "We continue to be challenged by the current economy. But while the environment is difficult, it is not as tough as it was last year."

Steinour noted growth in auto loans continued to be a "bright spot" and the bank saw modest growth in commercial and industrial loans.

The Ohio regional bank has been reporting improved results of late, reversing losses in recent quarters as it recovers from its struggles during the recession. Like many other banks, Huntington has seen its credit-loss provisions decline, helping the bottom line.

Loan-loss provisions were $119.2 million, down from $235 million a year earlier and $193.4 million in the prior quarter. Net charge-offs, or loans lenders don't think are collectible, fell to 1.98% of average loans from 2.58% a year earlier and 3.01% in the prior quarter. Nonperforming loans, those near default, were 2.94% from 6.26% and 4.24%, respectively.

Huntington posted a profit of $100.9 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $166.2 million, or 33 cents a share. Revenue jumped 9.4% to $677.1 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 6 cents on $660 million in revenue.

Shares closed at $5.60 Wednesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has risen 53% so far this year after falling nearly 50% in 2009.

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