Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio, reported higher quarterly profit that reflected lower operating expenses and solid asset quality.

The $104.2 billion-asset company said in a press release Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 81% from a year earlier to $432 million. The results included a $123 million tax benefit associated with recently passed tax reform.

Revenue rose by 4% to $1.1 billion.

Total loans increased by 5% to $70.1 billion, led by gains in residential mortgages, indirect auto and recreational vehicle lending. Deposits rose by 2% to $77 billion; core deposits increased by 3% to $74 billion.

Huntington CEO Stephen Steinour
“Commercial loan growth was particularly encouraging during the final few weeks of the year, and our commercial pipelines remain good as we start the new year," Huntington CEO Steve Steinour said.

The loan-loss provision fell by 13% to $65 million. Net chargeoffs totaled 0.24% of average loans, which was down slightly from a year earlier and well below the company’s long-term guidance of 0.35% to 0.55%. Nonperforming assets were equal to 0.55% of average loans.

Noninterest expense fell 7% to $633 million, including double-digit decreases in occupancy, equipment, marketing and professional services costs.

Revenue and loans should both increase by 4% to 6% this year, Stephen Steinour, the company's CEO, said in the release. Deposit balances could rise by 3% to 5%, while net chargeoffs should remain below the company's long-term guidance.

Noninterest expenses are expected to fall by 4% to 6% this year, he added.

“Sentiment remains healthy among both our consumer and business customers,” Steinour said. “Commercial loan growth was particularly encouraging during the final few weeks of the year, and our commercial pipelines remain good as we start the new year.”

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