First Horizon National Earnings Call NUGGETS: Mortgage Banking, Private Label Deals

On Friday, First Horizon National Corp (NYSE:FHN) reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Mortgage Banking

Ken Zerbe – Morgan Stanley: Maybe we can start with mortgage banking just a little bit. Obviously big decline there given particularly in light of the strength that we’ve seen across the industry in mortgage banking. Can you just go through the pieces a little bit? I’m just trying to understand what is sort of sustainable, what were the big one-time items there? I think you’d mentioned an adjustment on contingency related to something, the (service center was sold). Maybe little more metrics on that would be helpful?

A Closer Look: First Horizon National Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

William C. Losch III – EVP and CFO: It’s BJ. Several of the things to remember that we have very little mortgage origination income. So when you are going to see strength or not out in the marketplace, we’re not going to net fairly participate in that. What you will see is increase in our mortgage warehouse lending, our loans to mortgage companies and that’s what I talked about when we saw loan growth. We saw a very solid strength there. The biggest piece of our mortgage banking fee income is really related to our MSR hedging results and how effectively we hedge, and we had about $2 million of net positive results from hedging which was down from about $9 million in the first quarter. The other thing that you mentioned was a just a modest adjustment of couple of million dollars related to a bulk sale receivable that we had. So that’s more of a onetime item, but really the main driver for our mortgage banking income is always going to be the MSR hedge results, and as I said they were down about $8 million linked quarter.

Ken Zerbe – Morgan Stanley: The other question I had was just on the mortgage repurchase, I see that you’re talking about request of $431 million, has anything changed or what has changed between the time you announced the $250 million reserve build to today, and in terms of was anything different and anything better or worse than your expectations back then?

William C. Losch III – EVP and CFO: No, Ken. It’s BJ. As I said in my comments, we haven’t seen any change in the trends or estimates since we may be announcing and when we had the call after the announcement, we’ve talked about having very significant visibility and very detailed information from Fannie Mae which was extremely helpful and it wasn’t just historical information or current information, but it was expected future flow and so that really helps us understand what we’re going to be seeing and that obviously means that our views are going to be pretty good over the near-to-medium term at least.

Private Label Deals

Steven Alexopoulos – JPMorgan: I want to start in terms of the initial hit to Tier 1 from the proposed capital rules. First, should we think about the quarterly buyback still and somewhere $40 million, $45 million range per quarter or does that need to slow, right given the 240 basis point hit? Then secondly, are there any plans or options opened to you, to accelerate the run-off of the non-strategic, right. I guess that’s where most of the RWA hits coming from?

Bryan Jordan – Chairman, President and CEO: Hey, Steve. This is Bryan. A couple of thoughts. One, we’ve got $74 million, $75 million remaining under our authorization. We don’t think that those have any significant impact on that. We expect to continue to be opportunistic, but look for opportunities to repurchase stock. I’d point out a couple of points about the proposed rules. One, they are proposed. You got to put emphasis on that. There is some things in them that I think at least intuitively, it seems like they will change particularly around home, some of the capital levels maybe around home equity. Two, I would say and BJ pointed out, there are some opportunities for us change in mix of the portfolio. It’s a long time between now and 2015 and even longer when they are fully phased in. And as in the past, we’ve adjusted our balance sheet to make sure; one, that we have capital efficiency; and two that we have profitability driven by that. So, we will adjust appropriately to manage that. So, as BJ talked about it, he gave a spot rate and then he gave a longer term rate and we think more about where we will be at the end of 2014 and that’s sort of what we manage towards. So we think more about a 10% plus Tier I rate on these pro forma rules – proposed rules and so we manage according to that.

Steven Alexopoulos – JPMorgan: Bryan, one other question. Looking at the bullet on Slide 25 that all private label deals will reach five years by the end of 2012. I think it’s actually next month. Is it still the view that 5 years is a statute of limitations on private label and this risk should be behind you by 2013?

Bryan Jordan – Chairman, President and CEO: Yeah, BJ and I (neither want) a attorney so we will give you our interpretation of what we understand. Now there are different rules around statutes of limitation and statutes of repose and don’t ask me to define the differences between the two and it varies by state. As I understand that the federal rules are different from the state and the federal statutes have run and the states will run at various times, but we think the vast majority of it would occur by the end of that 5-year period based on our interpretation and understanding of it. So it’s not only that but you go through five years of performance, five years of history and if you look at the balances, I think the balances outstanding on those private label securities are down to about $11 billion so in round numbers from the original 35 range. So the passage of time in all ways we think is generally on our side. Our balance sheet becomes stronger and the exposure to these risks become smaller with the passage of time.