The rapid turnover among bank chief financial officers continues.
Just two weeks after issuing a profit warning revising its earnings outlook for the next year and a half, Huntington Bancshares abruptly replaced its chief financial officer, Anne Creek, with a former Bank One and Citizens Financial executive who had joined the banking company in June.
Analysts viewed the development as a sign that Ms. Creek, who had been Huntingtons controller before becoming CFO, was selected or opted to take the fall for its Sept. 29 forecast of lower-than-expected third- and fourth- quarter earnings.
Blaming rising interest rates and slower-than-expected growth in sales of brokerage products, the banking company also said it has adjusted its earnings forecast for 2001, to between $1.40 and $1.50 per share, down from analysts expectations of $1.79.
Someone had to take the fall, said Fred Cummings, an analyst at McDonald Investments. It looks like Anne Creek was held accountable for the disappointing earnings, both the revaluation of residual assets and the fact that earnings had to be cut sharply.
A spokeswoman for the banking company said the two announcements were independent of one another.
Ms. Creeks departure was announced late Tuesday, as was the appointment of Michael McMennamin to succeed her. Mr. McMennamin, who was chief financial officer for Bank One Corp. from 1995 to 1998 and for Citizens Financial Corp. from 1998 to 1999, had joined Huntington in June to head up its securities activities. He will keep those responsibilities.
Though the change sparked speculation that additional profit warnings would be forthcoming, Mr. McMennamin said the companys statements when it issued a profit warning on Sept. 29 still stand.
Someone raised the question, Was this indicative of any subsequent bad news? and the answer is a definitive no, he said in a phone interview Wednesday. This is just a change that executive management thought was appropriate to make.
Mr. McMennamin said the role of CFO was not discussed when he joined the company as president of Huntington Capital Corp., its subsidiary for institutional sales and securities trading, municipal bond underwriting, and investment banking. I was brought in to revitalize the investment banking operation here, he said.
Ms. Creek, who had been CFO since November 1999, elected to leave the bank to pursue other interests, according to a company statement.
Mr. Cummings said that Mr. McMennamin brings a pretty broad background to his new post, and that one guys not going to make that much of a difference, in my view.
Mr. McMennamin is the companys third CFO since Gerald Williams, who had been in the post 10 years, retired in April 1999. Judith Dunn Fisher, who had been treasurer, succeeded Mr. Williams, but was succeeded by Ms. Creek in November 1999, when Ms. Fisher was elected a vice chairman in charge of the private financial group. Ms. Fisher left the bank in March.
Ms. Creek was at least the 10th CFO to leave a major banking company this year. Among others were Heidi G. Miller, who left Citigroup to join Priceline.com; Peter Hancock, who left J.P. Morgan & Co. less than a week before the companys announcement of a that it would merge with Chase Manhattan Corp.; and Robert A. Rosholt, who was among the executives replaced at Bank One when James Dimon assumed the top job there.