Fourth Quarter 2012 Operating Results
Net Interest Income
Net interest income, adjusted for the net impact of covered loan dispositions, totaled $198.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2012, as compared to $196.3 million for the third quarter of 2012 and $204.0 million for the fourth quarter 2011. The core net interest margin, excluding the net impact to interest income of $46.5 million resulting from covered loan activity and amortization of the FDIC indemnification asset, totaled 3.84% for the fourth quarter of 2012. This compares to a core net interest margin, excluding the net impact to interest income of $25.6 million and $25.0 million resulting from covered loan activity and amortization of the FDIC indemnification asset, of 3.95% and 4.13% for the third quarter of 2012 and fourth quarter of 2011, respectively.
The increase in net interest income from the prior quarter stemmed from higher average interest earning assets, which increased $776.8 million or 4% quarter over quarter, largely fueled by higher total average loans outstanding, which increased $426.7 million or 4% quarter over quarter. However, the decrease in the core net interest margin in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2012 is primarily due to the larger impact of covered loan dispositions and amortization activity in the fourth quarter and the continued downward repricing of the investment securities and loan portfolios.
As previously discussed, with the extended low interest rate environment, downward pressure on the net interest margin is expected to continue to be a challenge for East West and the rest of the banking industry. East West continues to look for opportunities to minimize our cost of funds and maximize our asset yields, while also ensuring prudent interest rate risk management. In the fourth quarter of 2012, East West prepaid $43.0 million of FHLB advances at an average effective cost of 1.60% and restructured $75.0 million of FHLB advances, reducing the average effective cost for those advances by 86 basis points. Also, during the fourth quarter, the Company restructured $150.0 million of securities sold under repurchase agreements, reducing the average effective cost for those repurchase agreements by 195 basis points.