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First Horizon 1Q Loss Narrows On Lower Loan-Loss Provisions

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES First Horizon National Corp.'s (FHN) first-quarter loss narrowed as its loan-loss provisions continued to decline, this time by nearly two-thirds. Other lenders, such as banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), also reported smaller loan-loss provisions this week in a sign the sector may have turned a corner. The Tennessee-based regional bank has shifted its focus to its regional banking and capital markets segments while exiting or winding down some of its mortgage-banking businesses. First Horizon in February said it will close its institutional equity-research business after a September deal to sell the unit fell through. The parent of First Tennessee Bank reported a loss of $12.7 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with a prior-year loss of $67.8 million, or 32 cents. The latest period included $11.1 million in restructuring charges, while the prior year included $4.7 million. Revenue decreased 28% to $428.7 million as net-interest income fell 8%. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast a loss of 16 cents on revenue of $437 million. First Horizon lowered its credit-loss provisions by 65% to $105 million from a year earlier and 22% from the prior quarter. Net charge-offs, or loans lenders don't think are collectible, rose to 4.13% of average loans from 3.97% a year earlier and 4% in the prior quarter. Nonperforming assets, those near default, declined to 5.63% from 5.98% a year earlier as the lender continued to wind down its construction-loan portfolio, but were up from 5.56% in the prior quarter. Its regional banking business, which focuses on services including traditional lending and mortgage origination, swung to a loss as lower outstanding loan balances and a cyclical decrease in insufficient funds fees lead to revenue declines. Provisions for loan losses, personnel costs and foreclosure losses also rose. The segment turned to the black in the prior quarter after posting losses for the rest of 2009. Shares closed Thursday at $15.32 and were inactive premarket. The stock is up 16% this year, more than the broader market. Chief Executive Bryan Jordan said, "The economic recovery won't be a straight line." He also said the company is making strategic hires as it works to increase its market share. -By Tess Stynes, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2481;

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