Huntington bancshares inc [HBAN]

Huntington bancshares inc [HBAN] – Positive insider profile

By all accounts, Ohio’s Huntington Bankshares, Inc. is pulling in its horns. On December 3, the Justice Department approved SunTrust Bank’s bid to buy Huntington’s capital intensive Florida branches for approximately $700 million in cash. Prior to this, the once acquisitive bank consolidated more than 40 Midwest branches and cut its quarterly dividend by 20%.

Such moves are the latest in management’s attempts to bolster the company’s balance sheet and improve operating performance-both considered mediocre relative to the Huntington’s peers. And while in affirming 4Q estimates, managment recently acknowledged that credit quality has deteriorated, at least three executives appear to like the company’s longer term prospects.

From October 18 to November 27, three insiders bought 90,000 shares on the open market between the prices of Sl5.23 and $16.66 per share.

Despite management’s efforts in addressing their concerns, analysts remain lukewarm on Huntington. As a positive, most seem convinced that the funds from the dividend cut and the sale of the Florida franchise will be put to good use, most likely to repurchase stock sometime early next year. If so, it is encouraging to see insiders buying ahead of the company buyback, rather than selling, as is too often the case.

And it doesn’t hurt that the recent round of accumulation is the largest at the company since 1990, nor that insiders are buying more now than they had from 1997 through 2000 combined. Perhaps most convincing, all three insiders are buying at a time when their options are either underwater or have yet to vest.

[Graph omitted]

Insider Shares

VC Ronald Baldwin 20,000

First transaction since filing in

Apr. 2001. Buying shares with

options yet to vest.

Pres., CEO Thomas Hoaglin 40,000

First transaction since filing in

Feb. 2001. Buying shares with

options yet to vest.

VC, CFO, Treas. Michael McMennamin 30,000

First transaction filing in Sept.

2000. Buying shares with options

yet to vest or underwater.

COPYRIGHT 2001 American Banker-Bond Buyer

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group