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Huntington Bancshares reports 2012 earnings increase

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Huntington Bancshares is bullish on the West Virginia economy, even in the coal fields, a company official said Jan. 17 shortly after the company announced its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings.

Andy Paterno, president of Huntington Bank's West Virginia region, said in a conference call with West Virginia reporters that worldwide demand for coal keeps the bank optimistic about coal's future in the state.

And in the northern part of the state, the shale gas fields continue to be a growth opportunity, he said. Huntington Bank has added business segments to serve the energy industry, he said.

"We feel long-term it's going to be a great play here," he said.

The morning of Jan. 17, Huntington Bancshares reported 2012 full-year net income of $641 million, an increase of $98.4 million, or 18 percent, from 2011. Fourth quarter net income was $167.3 million, up from $119.155 million in fourth quarter of 2011.

"We are pleased with the year's financial results, which reflect steady growth in a number of key areas including loans, deposits, and customer relationships as well as improved profitability," said Stephen D. Steinour, chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a news release.

"While some businesses are hesitant to invest in light of the current uncertainty in the economy, we believe our differentiated approach to banking, coupled with investing in our franchise through enhanced products and services, will drive growth and improvement of our long-term profitability."

Looking ahead, Steinour said, "We expect to continue seeing the strong growth of the Midwest economy relative to the broader United States. However, business sentiment continues to be negatively influenced by the uncertainty in Washington and its direct impact on the U.S. economy. We remain optimistic that when solutions are in place, the strength of the Midwest and the soundness of our strategy will continue to drive growth."

Huntington Bancshares is based in Columbus, Ohio. It has more than 30 banking locations in West Virginia.

Paterno said the West Virginia market mirrors Huntington Bank's growth in mortgage  and small business loans elsewhere. The West Virginia market is a mix of refinancing and new mortgages, he said.

Todd Beekman, manager of investor relations, said Huntington Bank will look at growth in West Virginia through acquisitions, but the company is taking a disciplined approach.

"Our primary focus is organic growth," he said.