As profits plummet, PNC says don’t worry

By Lindsay Carroll

‘ ‘ ‘ PNC Financial Services Group, the No. 1 provider of educational loans to Pitt students,… ‘ ‘ ‘ PNC Financial Services Group, the No. 1 provider of educational loans to Pitt students, has not been immune to the nation’s financial crisis. ‘ ‘ ‘ Pittsburgh’s oldest bank reported that its profits fell 39 percent in the third quarter, according to PNC’s Oct. 16 filing for the Securities and Exchange Commission. ‘ ‘ ‘ Although the company did not reveal how many students have PNC accounts, Fred Solomon, PNC vice president of corporate communications, said that PNC provides more student loans to Pitt than any other institution. ‘ ‘ ‘ But Solomon said that the third-quarter drop in profits would not affect Pitt students and that the company is doing well despite a slowdown. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘PNC is among the best-performing banks in the country. In fact, PNC raised its dividend this year,’ said Solomon in an e-mail. ‘Our core business activities delivered solid results in the quarter despite a difficult economy.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Neither Solomon nor Pitt spokesman John Fedele would disclose specific information about Pitt’s corporate relationship with PNC. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We do not expect any changes in our relationship with PNC,’ said Fedele, referring to the profit losses. ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt’s and PNC’s banking alliance allows students to use their Panther Cards as ATM cards. PNC ATMs are located all over campus, including Sutherland Hall, Petersen Events Center and Litchfield Towers. There are also branch locations open in the Schenley Quad and on South Craig Street. ‘ ‘ ‘ PNC still encourages Pitt students to create free checking accounts at PNC. ‘ ‘ ‘ Solomon said that despite profits falling, PNC remains strong. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We have strong capital and liquidity positions, and we maintain a moderate risk profile that helped us largely avoid exposure to subprime mortgages and other problematic products,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Solomon suggested that students use features like PNC’s AutoAlerts, a program that sends e-mails when an account balance falls below a specified limit. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We urge students to take advantage of the tools available to help them manage their finances,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ He did not give other examples of how students can protect their finances in the economic climate. ‘ ‘ ‘ On Friday, the company reported that it bought National City Corporation, based in Cleveland, Ohio. PNC acquired the company at $2.23 per share, or $5.2 billion in PNC stock, according to a press release posted on the Securities and Exchange Commission Web site. The acquisition will make PNC the fifth largest bank in terms of deposits. ‘ ‘ ‘ A slideshow presentation included in the Commission’s filings said that PNC does not know exactly what to expect from the merger. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Our ability to achieve anticipated results from this transaction is dependent on the state of the economic and financial markets going forward, which have been under significant stress recently,’ said the release. ‘Specifically, we may incur more credit losses from National City’s loan portfolio than expected.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ PNC’s stock went up two points in value after Friday’s merger, although it had dropped from 72.81 points on Sept. 26 to 56.88 points on Oct. 22. ‘ ‘ ‘ PNC also bought Sterling Financial Corporation and Yardville National Bancorp in the past year.