First Horizon National Corp. posted its third straight quarterly loss Friday, though a better-than-expected showing sent the Memphis banking company's shares surging.

The parent of First Tennessee Bank, benefiting from narrower loan losses, said its net loss shrank 55.5% from the third quarter and 77.6% from a year earlier, to $55.7 million, or 27 cents a share. The results beat the average estimate of analysts by 7 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

On Friday, the $31 billion-asset First Horizon's shares rose 18%, to $8.82, in an otherwise down market for bank stocks. First Horizon's loan losses fell 18% from the third quarter but rose 79% from a year earlier, to $280 million.

Chargeoffs rose 23% from the third quarter and 277% from a year earlier, to $191.2 million.

Adam Barkstrom, a Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. analyst, said First Horizon has benefited from scaling back its mortgage business and discontinuing some lending businesses after an ill-fated nationwide expansion of its mortgage line.

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Corrected January 20, 2009 at 12:40PM: The version of this story that appeared in the print edition mistakenly described First Horizon National Corp.'s fourth-quarter loss. As the item itself correctly stated, the loss was smaller than analysts had expected.