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TheStreet Open House

10 Bank Stock Picks: Heroes vs. Zeros

5. Wilshire Bancorp

Shares of Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC) of Los Angeles closed at $3.35 Friday, down 46% since Sept. 3, 2010.

The company had $2.7 billion in total assets as of Sept. 30, with 24 branches in Southern California, Texas, New Jersey, and the New York City area, and six loan production offices in Colorado, Georgia, Texas (two offices), New Jersey, and Virginia.

Wilshire Bancorp owes $62.2 million in federal bailout funds received through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP. The company raised $109 million in common equity during the second quarter, following an agreement with regulators to bring main subsidiary Wilshire State Bank's Tier 1 leverage ratio up to at least 10%. The Bank subsidiary's Tier 1 leverage ratio was 13.24% as of Sept. 30.

Wilshire Bancorp reported third-quarter net income available to common shareholders of $10.2 million, or 14 cents a share, increasing from $5.0 million, or 14 cents a share, during the third quarter of 2010.

The main factor in the earnings improvement was a decline in the third-quarter provision for loan losses of $2.5 million, from $18.0 million a year earlier. A $5.7 million release of loan loss reserves during the third quarter directly boosted earnings.

Wilshire Bancorp's total assets declined 17% year-over-year, as the company continued working to reduce its commercial real estate exposure and its nonperforming loans. During the third quarter, the company sold $28.7 million in loans, most of which were nonperforming, for a gain of $1.7 million.

Net interest income declined 14% year-over-year to $25.5 million in the third quarter, reflecting the balance sheet reduction. The third-quarter net interest margin was a strong 4.23% in the third quarter, increasing from 3.93% a year earlier.

FIG Partners analyst Timothy Coffey on Oct. 28 reiterated his "Outperform" or "Buy" rating for Wilshire Bancorp, raising his 12-month price target to $4.50 from $3.80, anticipating that the company "could start to reverse the DTA-Deferred Tax Asset valuation allowance over the coming quarters," and that "the improvement in the earnings power has resulted in losses below management's projections, which has increased the valuation allowance to $40 million." Coffey estimated that "company could have no tax expense or very limited expense in 2012 before a normalized expense returns in 2013."

The shares trade for 6.7 times the consensus 2012 EPS estimate of 50 cents among analysts polled by FactSet, and for just above times tangible book value, according to SNL Financial.

Out of seven analysts covering Wilshire Bancorp, four rate the shares a buy, while the remaining analysts all have neutral ratings.

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