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Huntington Bancshares (HBAN)

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We have upgraded our recommendation on Huntington Bancshares Inc. (HBAN) to Outperform following a detailed analysis of the company fundamentals in light of the current economic environment. The company is exhibiting growth in its loan portfolio, which surpasses its peers.

The company reported better-than-expected first quarter 2011 results on the back of credit quality improvement and a modest growth in loans and deposits. Strategic initiatives are right on track, and the company is poised to benefit from an economic rebound. By making active efforts to reduce its problem assets, the company has lowered the level of its criticized commercial loans.

Though issues related to a sluggish economic recovery along its footprints and regulatory concerns remain, its solid capital position and tactical efforts are expected to reduce those impacts. Our six-month target price of $7.50 equates to 12.5x our earnings estimate for 2011.

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