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A bank holding company, which through its subsidiary banks, engages in the commercial banking and trust business.
Park National Bank--the core company of the Park National Corporation--is one of the most solidly-run community banks that I have encountered. The quality of their customer service is nearly unrivaled by big banks present in the same area; this grants them a superb advantage with customer retention and satisfaction, a phenomenon that is a rare encounter in the modern world of banking. Their involvement in their home community is remarkable as well, further exemplifying their commitment to community service and investment.The management of Park National Corporation runs the company responsibly and conservatively, for the most part; rather than favoring higher-risk activities like the larger banks, they prefer to stick to a solid foundation of responsible lending and growth of local business. The acquisition of the over-leveraged Vision Banks of Northwestern Florida and Alabama was a costly blunder that was later acknowledged, but such mistakes are rare for this company.Business was hit hard during the recession, and is still recovering, but even when faced with a sharply declining stock price--which plunged to the mid 40's during the nadir of March 2009--the company held firm, continuing to lend money when many banks simply ceased to do so, and never once slashed its dividend. Several Fools had thought this dividend was unsustainable, but if the company can still afford to pay an unwavering $3.76 annual dividend per share in the face of the "Great Recession," I should think it speaks to the underlying strength of the company and its ability to weather harder times. With a strong 2010 now in the books as evidence of its resilience, Park is well-positioned to take advantage of a recovering economy in the year(s) to come.
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