Cathay General Bancorp ( CATY), the holding company for Cathay Bank, said its second-quarter earnings rose 12.9% from the year-ago period, on strong organic loan growth and strong net interest income. The Los Angeles, Calif.-based company earned $29.05 million, or 56 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $25.73 million, or 51 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 57 cents a share in the most recent quarter. Second-quarter net interest income rose 20% from a year ago to $71.05 million. Gross loans increased 16.3% to $5.4 billion as of June 30, 2006 from Dec. 31, 2005, representing an increase of $755.12 million, of which $212.1 million resulted from the acquisition of GEB on April 7, 2006. Second-quarter net interest margin increased 5 basis points from a year ago to 4.27%. Non-interest income rose 5.7% to $5.75 million. Non-performing assets to gross loans was 0.44% at end of the quarter, compared with 0.39% at Dec. 31, 2005. "While the flat yield curve and the strong competition for core deposits continue to present challenges, we are still optimistic that 2006 should be another record year for Cathay General Bancorp," said the company. "We are pleased to report another record quarter of earnings while the company announced its expansion into the Chicago market through a merger with New Asia Bancorp."