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Pinnacle Financial rises on 1Q results

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. rose to their highest point in more than four years on Tuesday as an analyst upgraded the company's rating and price target on better-than-expected first-quarter financial results.

THE SPARK: On Monday Pinnacle Financial reported earnings of 39 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 33 cents per share. Revenue excluding securities gains climbed to $54.7 million from $49.5 million. Wall Street forecast revenue of $53.7 million.

THE ANALYSIS: Wunderlich Securities' Kevin Reynolds said that the company's earnings topped his estimate by 6 cents per share thanks partly to solid loan growth and strong fee income growth. The analyst also pointed out in a client note that credit costs dropped and asset quality improved for the 12th straight quarter.

Reynolds said the current stock price provides an appealing entry point for growth-oriented investors. He raised Pinnacle Financial's rating to "Buy" from "Hold" and lifted its price target to $26 from $23.

The company is operating at higher levels than it has before for many financial metrics, including total loans and revenue, said Pinnacle Financial's CEO Terry Turner in an emailed statement.

SHARE ACTION: Pinnacle Financial's stock surged $2.67, or 12 percent, to $24.35 in late afternoon trading. The stock climbed to $24.80 earlier in the session, the highest level since March 2009. Shares had gained 15 percent in 2013.