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VOL. 127 | NO. 76 | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Horizon CEO Touts Strengths

By Andy Meek

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Analysts are expecting the parent company of First Tennessee Bank to report a profit of 13 cents per share when it reports first quarter earnings Thursday.

Analysts expect First Horizon National Corp., parent of First Tennessee Bank, to report a profit Thursday.

(Daily News File Photo: Brandon Dill)

That’s the consensus forecast among a little more than two dozen analysts covering the stock of Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. And though those estimates vary from as low as 3 cents per share up to 16 cents per share, no analysts are forecasting a loss for the quarter.

The forecast is 2 cents shy of the 15 cents per share mark First Horizon hit for Q1 2011. For all of 2011, First Horizon’s profit was $131.2 million, reversing a loss of $57.8 million for 2010.

First Horizon chairman, president and CEO Bryan Jordan noted that profitability during the company’s annual meeting Tuesday morning at its Downtown Memphis headquarters. Return to profitability after a few years’ worth of quarterly losses during the worst of the recession, along with being the dominant bank in four out of five of Tennessee’s largest market areas, is part of the reason Jordan says First Horizon “sees opportunity amid the challenges.”

“I believe First Horizon is a special company. We’re different,” he said.

The word “relationships” was displayed prominently on the screen behind Jordan for the entirety of the annual meeting.

He went on to say the company’s customer deposits are climbing at a faster clip than the growth rate for the state in general. Also, he said the nearly 150-year-old company is “leaner, more flexible and more responsive” than it’s been in the recent past.

Part of that leanness relates to trimming expenses. As of January, the company was about $112 million into realizing $139 million of cost-saving actions identified in 2011.

Technology advancements are another big push. Also in recent weeks, the company rolled out its mobile deposit product to Android smartphone users.

In other recent developments at the company, Jordan succeeded Mike Rose as chairman of the board Jan. 1. This month marked Rose’s retirement from the board after steering it and the company through the Great Recession.

Last month, First Horizon was recognized for efforts to advance women by the National Association for Female Executives and CABLE, Tennessee’s largest network of professionals aimed at helping women succeed.

NAFE named First Horizon one of the 2012 Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. CABLE recognized First Horizon as one of 10 public companies in Tennessee with two or more female directors on its board.

Also, First Tennessee received top grades in the 2012 Phoenix-Hecht Treasury Management Quality Index in the middle market and large corporate banking segments.

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