In this series, we take a look at the 25 stocks on the S&P 500 Index (SPX) that have turned in the worst performance during the past decade -- what went wrong, and what happens next.
Is it just me, or were Ohio-based regional banks a particular target of the market's wrath during our focus decade? KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) of Cleveland and Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ: FITB) of Cincinnati have already made cameos on our list of losers -- and I'm not going to give it away, but there's at least one more Buckeye State banker further down the line-up. And, of course, how could we forget Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ: HBAN)?
What went wrong? At number 14 on our list of SPX laggards, HBAN shed 77% of its value from June 30, 1998 through June 30, 2008. At the end of June 1998, the shares were perched just narrowly atop $25 -- a region that would later switch roles to provide impenetrable resistance from July 2004 through the end of 2006. Now, in the wake of a precipitous price plunge, HBAN is wallowing some 72% below this formerly critical level.
Unlike some other regional banks, HBAN started to feel the pain of subprime-gone-wrong as soon as July 2007. At the time, the bank warned that its second-quarter earnings would fall 11 cents short of analysts' expectations. CEO Thomas Hoaglin admitted, "These results were below our expectations and resulted primarily from difficult and deteriorating residential real estate markets." This admission paved the way for an all-out plunge; from its July 2007 peak to its July 2008 low, the stock shed 81%.
What next? HBAN stepped into the earnings spotlight on July 17, and reported second-quarter net income of $101.4 million, or 25 cents per share, which exceeded analysts' estimates by 2 pennies per share. However, the company's own outlook is still cautious. Huntington dropped its earnings estimates for 2008 from $1.45 - $1.50 per share to $1.25 - $1.35 per share, and attributed the downward revision to an assumed higher provision for loan and lease losses.
In comments accompanying the earnings release and slashed guidance, Hoaglin said his main objective was "to reassure our shareholders that while credit quality remains under pressure given the continued economic weakness in our markets, our full-year 2008 net charge-off outlook has remained fairly consistent."
Traders were highly skeptical of HBAN ahead of the second-quarter report -- in the 10 days prior to the announcement, investors purchased 21 times more puts than calls on the stock, according to the International Securities Exchange. The unwinding of this skepticism could account for HBAN's single-day spike of about 40%. However, for a stock trading below $10, this gain translated to just a few points. It seems that the market may have properly adjusted its expectations for HBAN, but even the bank itself admits that it's not completely out of the woods just yet.