Cathay General's Profit Up

The company hits targets.
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Cathay General Bancorp

(CATY) - Get Report

, the holding company for Cathay Bank, said its first-quarter earnings rose 9.5% from the year-ago period, on strong growth in loans and stable net interest margin.

The Los Angeles, Calif.-based company earned $27.3 million, or 54 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $25 million, or 49 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of $27.6 million, or 54 cents a share in the most recent quarter.

First-quarter net interest income rose 10.9% from a year ago to $65.1 million. Analysts were expecting net interest income of $69.6 million in the most recent quarter.

"While a slowdown in loan demand may occur later in 2006, we are still optimistic that 2006 should be another record year for Cathay General Bancorp," the company said.

"We are pleased to report another record quarter of earnings while the Company announced two important acquisitions. Strong organic loan growth and a stable net interest margin were the main factors that contributed to the record first quarter results," the company added. "We expect the integration of Great Eastern Bank to be completed during the third quarter. We are pleased by the level of retention of customers and key officers to date."

First-quarter net interest margin increased 11 basis points from a year ago to 4.33%.

An agreement was signed by it with Great Eastern Bank on Feb. 21 to acquire all its outstanding shares. The company acquired 84.1% of the shares of Great Eastern Bank through its tender offer, which closed on April 7.

The company also signed an agreement on March 31 to buy a 20% stake in Shanghai-based First Sino Bank for an estimated $52.2 million, subject to approvals of banking regulatory agencies in both China and the United States and other customary closing conditions.

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