Despite the losses, a combination of a reduction in the bank's loan portfolio and some capital from the holding company increased the bank's tier 1 leverage ratio to 8.94% and its total risk-based capital ratio to 13.13% as of Dec. 31, up considerably from 5.96% and 10.55% a year earlier. Those ratios need to be at least 5% and 10% for most banks to be considered well-capitalized. RBC Bank (USA) didn't participate in TARP.

Like Compass Bank, RBC Bank (USA) is relying on its holding company as a source of strength through the crisis. In a report supporting his firm's "neutral" rating for Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Theriault said significant declines in fourth-quarter trading revenue for JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Citigroup ( C) indicated a similar decline would be reported by Canada's largest bank for its fiscal first quarter, which ends Feb. 28.

The shares closed at $54.42 on Thursday, up 3% this year. Theriault's one-year target for the shares is $56.

East West Bank

East West Bank of Pasadena, Calif., is held by East West Bancorp ( EWBC). In addition to its branches in southern California, the company operates several offices in China.

The bank's nonperforming-asset ratio was a relatively low 1.16% as of Dec. 31. However, its ratio of net charge-offs (actual loan losses) to average loans was a high 5.16% for 2009.

Fourth-quarter earnings were boosted by a pre-tax gain from the acquisition of the failed United Commercial Bank of San Francisco, illustrating how lucrative it can be to take over a failed bank with a loss-sharing guarantee from the FDIC.

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