TEXT-Fitch affirms PNC Financial Services Group
June 12 - Fitch Ratings affirmed PNC's long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'A+' and short-term IDR at 'F1' in recognition of its solid earnings and capital levels, strong liquidity profile, and manageable asset quality deterioration to date. The Rating Outlook is Stable. A complete list of ratings follows at the end of this release. PNC's ratings affirmation reflects its solid earnings profile, good capital and improving asset quality trends. PNC's earnings performance has remained solid through the financial crisis, and compares well to regional peers. Earnings benefit from a solid margin, diversified sources of noninterest income, and generally tight expense controls. Fitch notes that some of PNC's relatively stronger margin stems from purchase accounting, which Fitch calculates as adding 36bps to the margin in 1Q'12. This is comparable to other regional banks whose margins also benefit from purchase accounting accretion as a result of large acquisitions completed during the crisis. Fitch's rating action also incorporates ongoing earnings pressure from various sources including mortgage repurchase costs, litigation accruals, and regulatory related costs, all impacting PNC's overall return metrics. PNC recently disclosed a significant increase to its mortgage repurchase reserves of approximately $350 million reflecting increased repurchase demands from Fannie Mae. Although this was well outside of Fitch's expectations for run-rate repurchase costs and it will materially impact 2Q'12 results, PNC's Outlook remains Stable as its earnings profile is expected to still remain above peer averages over the long-term. PNC's capital profile is considered good, though Fitch acknowledges that PNC's pro forma Basel III capital ratios are adversely impacted more than other regional bank peers given its large book of sub-investment grade securities and its investment in BlackRock. PNC estimates its pro forma Basel III Tier 1 common ratios to be between 8% and 8.5% by year-end 2013. Fitch views this level of capital as acceptable in light of PNC's risk profile and earnings track record and capacity. Fitch further assumes that PNC will manage capital conservatively in the meantime, in light of Basel III implications on capital levels. PNC has reported improving asset quality metrics since the peak of problems in late 2009/early 2010. Fitch expects that PNC's asset quality ratios will slowly improve over the near term. PNC's portfolio of TDRs is smaller than regional peer averages, and PNC has ample reserve coverage for the modified loan book. The company is exposed to some tail risk in its residential lending portfolio, especially within its large home equity book. Performance to date has been good, likely attributed to the large percentage of home equity lines, presumably paying very modest monthly interest only payments. Given the low interest rate environment and expectation of rates remaining low through 2014, Fitch does not expect to see home equity borrowers face meaningful interest rate resets when their draw periods come to an end over the next several years. PNC's approximately $10 billion of interest only home equity lines that will begin to reset to fully amortizing loans in 2015 bears monitoring. Fitch expects that this might represent increased credit risk in the home equity book as borrowers are faced with higher monthly payments. That said, Fitch feels that PNC is positioned well to manage this risk and absorb potential losses. The company's outlook remains Stable, supported by its solid underwriting, solid capital profile, and loan loss reserves. The balance sheet is liquid as loan/deposit ratios remains lower than peers. PNC has access to a diversified array of funding sources. Fitch believes PNC has sufficient sources of cash at the parent to maintain acceptable levels of liquidity for the foreseeable future. The Rating Outlook for PNC is Stable. Fitch currently views upgrade potential for PNC as a low likelihood amidst a challenging economic environment, increased regulatory headwinds, and weak interest rate environment. If PNC were to report meaningful deterioration in asset quality, coupled with weaker profitability metrics, or more aggressive capital management could lead to a negative rating action, although Fitch views a downgrade as unlikely. Fitch affirms the following ratings with a Stable Outlook: PNC Financial Services Group Inc. --Long-term IDR at 'A+'; --Short-term IDR at 'F1'; --Viability at 'a+'; --Support at '5'; --Support floor at 'NF'; --Preferred stock at 'BBB-'. PNC Bank N.A. --Long-term IDR 'A+'; --Long-term deposits at 'AA-'; --Viability at 'a+'; --Subordinated at 'A'; --Short-term IDR at 'F1'; --Short-term deposits at 'F1+'; --Short-term debt at 'F1'; --Support at '5'; --Support floor at 'NF'. PNC Funding Corp --Long-term IDR at 'A+'; --Senior unsecured at 'A+'; --Subordinated at 'A'; --Short-term IDR at 'F1'; --Short-term debt at 'F1'; --Support at '5'; --Support floor at`NF'; --Long-term debt guaranteed by TLGP at 'AAA'. Mercantile Bankshares Corporation PNC Financial Corp. --Subordinated at 'A'. PNC Capital Trust C, E National City Capital Trust IV Fort Wayne Capital Trust I --Trust preferred at 'BBB'. National City Preferred Capital Trust I --Preferred Stock 'BBB-'. PNC Preferred Funding Trust I, II, III --Hybrid capital instruments at 'BBB'. National City Credit Corporation --Short-term IDR at 'F1'; --Support at '5'; --Commercial paper at 'F1'. National City Corporation --Senior unsecured at 'A+'; --Subordinated at 'A'; --Convertible preferred (trust preferred securities) at 'BBB'; --Preferred stock at 'BBB-'. National City Bank (Cleveland) --Long-term deposits at 'AA-'; --Senior unsecured at 'A+'; --Subordinated at 'A'; --Short-term deposits at 'F1+'. National City Bank of Indiana --Long-term deposits at 'AA-'; --Subordinated at 'A'. National City Bank of Kentucky The Provident Bank --Long-term deposits at 'AA-'.
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