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Westamerica Profit Rises

A charge weighs down the year-ago period.

Westamerica Bancorp.

(WABC) - Get Westamerica Bancorporation Report

said fourth-quarter earnings rose 30% from a year ago due primarily to a securities-related charge in the 2004 period.

The California-based bank earned $27.6 million, or 85 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $21.2 million, or 65 cents a share, a year ago. The latest period included a gain of 1 cent a share related to life insurance proceeds. The year-ago quarter had an impairment charge of 13 cents a share.

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Analysts were forecasting earnings of 84 cents a share in the latest quarter, according to Thomson First Call.

The return on shareholders' equity in the last quarter of 2005 was 26.0% while the return on assets was 2.15%. The provision for credit losses for the fourth quarter was $150,000, a decline of 75% over the corresponding quarter of 2004.

The bank generated a net interest income before taxes of $55.8 million for the quarter ended Dec. 2005, an increase of 2.3% over the same period in 2004. Fourth quarter 2005 net interest margin was 4.80%, compared to 5.01% a year ago.

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