Noninterest expense was $85.2 million in the first quarter of 2012, up $0.8 million from noninterest expense of $84.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, and down $0.9 million from noninterest expense of $86.1 million in the same quarter last year. Noninterest expense in the first quarter of 2012 included $1.2 million for the final phase of a refresh of the Company’s personal computers. There were no significant nonrecurring noninterest expense items during the previous quarter or comparable quarter last year. An analysis of noninterest expenses related to salaries and benefits is included in Table 9.
The effective tax rate for the first quarter of 2012 was 27.55 percent compared to 26.06 percent in the previous quarter, and 32.60 percent during the same quarter last year. The lower effective tax rate in the first quarter of 2012 was primarily due to a $2.7 million credit to the provision for income taxes related to the previously disclosed early termination of leveraged leases for two cargo ships. The effective tax rate for the fourth quarter of 2011 was favorably impacted by the release of tax reserves determined during the quarter.
The Company’s business segments are defined as Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, Investment Services, and Treasury & Other. Results are determined based on the Company’s internal financial management reporting process and organizational structure. Selected financial information for the business segments is included in Table 13.
Asset QualityThe Company’s overall asset quality during the first quarter of 2012 reflects the gradually improving Hawaii economy. Total non-performing assets increased to $41.4 million at March 31, 2012 primarily due to the lengthy judiciary foreclosure process for residential mortgage loans. As a percentage of total loans and leases, including loans held for sale and foreclosed real estate, non-performing assets were 0.74 percent at March 31, 2012, a slight increase from 0.73 percent at December 31, 2011 and up from 0.65 percent at March 31, 2011.