SunTrust Banks Inc.'s first-quarter loss narrowed following year-earlier writedowns as results beat analysts' estimates and the company said "lingering effects of the recession" continued to hurt its results.

But Chairman and Chief Executive James M. Wells III expressed some optimism, saying, "We are increasingly encouraged by current operating trends and our outlook for the future."

Wells noted in January that SunTrust had continued to see soft revenue and weakened loan demand from consumer and commercial borrowers because of the recession, though he said he was encouraged by recent improving credit trends. The Atlanta regional bank serves an area that was hit especially hard by the real-estate crash.

SunTrust reported a loss of $161 million, or 46 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $815 million, or $2.49 a share. That loss was also 46 cents, excluding the writedowns.

Revenue dropped 14% to $1.9 billion on a 38% slump in noninterest income.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast a loss of 58 cents on $2 billion in revenue.

Credit-loss provisions were $862 million, down from $994 million a year earlier and $973.7 million in the prior quarter. Net charge-offs, or loans lenders don't think are collectible, rose to 2.91% of average loans from 1.97% and 2.83%, respectively. Nonperforming loans, those near default, were 4.55%, compared with 3.75% and 4.75%.

Average consumer and commercial deposits were $115.1 billion, up 7% from a year earlier.

Shares closed at $30.19 Tuesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has risen 88% in the past year.

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