PNC reports good start to year but no dividend hike yet

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PNC Financial Services Group CEO James Rohr told shareholders today that 2009 was a good year for the company and that PNC was "off to an excellent start to 2010," but was not ready to raise the common stock dividend.

Mr. Rohr, speaking during the annual meeting at One PNC Plaza, Downtown, said he believed that before restoring the dividend, the board of directors would want to see more "stability" in the economy, more clarity from regulators on how much capital banks will be required to keep, and "consistently strong earnings" from PNC.

"I'm confident when these conditions become more predictable, our board will take the appropriate action," he said.

PNC, like many big banks, slashed its quarterly dividend last year to conserve cash during the financial crisis. PNC reduced its payout 85 percent, from 66 cents per share to 10 cents.

Mr. Rohr also fielded questions from shareholders upset over the dividend cut.

"When are you going to return the dividend? Some people are hurting," asked one.

"We hope to be able to do that as soon as reasonable," Mr. Rohr said.

At the meeting, shareholders approved a resolution giving PNC's board the option of requiring shareholder approval of future executive severance packages known as "golden parachutes" that exceed 2.99 times the executive's base salary plus bonus.

The proposal was submitted by the Trowel Trades S&P 500 Index Fund, which has won approval of the same resolution at other banks this year, including earlier this month at Bank of New York Mellon.

PNC's board had opposed the measure, saying it would "severely inhibit our ability to recruit and retain talented executives."

A second shareholder proposal concerning executive pay was defeated.


Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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