East West Bancorp, Inc. ( EWBC)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 26, 2011 11:30 am ET

Executives

Kelly Adams - VP of First

Dominic Ng - Chairman and CEO

Julia Gouw - President and COO

Irene Oh - CFO

Analysts

Andrea Jao - Cowen & Company

Jonathan Elmi - Macquarie Research Equities

Ken Zerbe - Morgan Stanley

Brett Rabatin – Sterne, Agee

Mike Zaremski - Credit Suisse

Christopher Nolan - CRT Capital

Jennifer Demba - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

Joe Morford - RBC Capital Markets

Julianna Balicka - KBW

Aaron Deer - Sandler O'Neill & Partners

Ram Shankar - FBR Capital Markets

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to the East West Bancorp Fourth Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. All participants will be in listen-only mode. After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. (Operator Instructions) Please note this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Kelly Adams, First’s Vice President. Please go ahead.

Kelly Adams

Good morning and thank you for joining us to review the financial results of East West Bancorp for the fourth quarter and full-year 2010. Here to review the results are Dominic Ng, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Julia Gouw, President and Chief Operating Officer; and, Irene Oh, Chief Financial Officer. We will then open the call to questions.

First, we would like to caution you that during the course of this call, management may make projections or other forward-looking statements regarding events or future financial performance of the company within the meaning of the Safe Harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may differ materially from the actual results due to a number of risks and uncertainties.

For a more detailed description of factors that affect the company’s operating results, please refer to our filings with the SEC, including our annual report on Form 10-K and for the year ended December 31, 2009.

Today’s call is also being recorded and will be available in a replay format at eastwestbank.com and streetevents.com.

I will now turn the call over to Dominic.

Dominic Ng

Thank you, Kelly. Good morning and thank you for joining us in today's call. Yesterday afternoon, we were pleased to report financial results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2010. As announced yesterday, this was the reported earnings for the fourth quarter of $56 million and $165 million for the full year.

Our fourth quarter earnings were $9 million or 20% higher than the third quarter of 2010 and our earnings for the full year 2010 were $88 million or 115% higher than 2009.

Our results for the fourth quarter of 2010 marked the fifth consecutive quarter of solid earnings and record full year earnings for East West.

Looking back, 2010 marked the end of an extraordinary decade in the history of East West. Over the past 10 years, East West has grown over 800% from $2.5 billion in total asset in the year 2000 to $20.7 billion at the end of 2010.

We began the decade as a small community bank and grew to a bank with international operations at over 130 branches. We’ve created long-term value for our shareholders, increasing our market capitalization from over $500 million to over $3 billion, through both our organic growth and successful acquisitions, including the instrumental FDIC assisted acquisition of United Commercial Bank 2009, East West has now grown to be 30th largest publicly traded bank in the nation.

The bank achieved many accomplishments during 2010. We set up small internal goals for specific loan and our deposit growth at [the bank]. We increased C&I loans by $480 million or 32% year-to-date. Core deposit growth was equally processed at $1.8 billion or 25% year-to-date.

Credit quality is stable and both provision and net charge-off levels decreased throughout 2010. For the fifth consecutive quarter, non-performing asset levels were under 1% and both provision and net charge-offs decreased quarter-over-quarter.

With our expanded strength and size, we believe that we will continue to win new business and continue to deliver strong financial performance in 2011 and beyond.

Over the course of 2010, we have made investments in both our people and technology that are positively and profitably benefiting us. We are focused on delivering superior customer service to our customers and expanding our cross-border business through our expanded domestic and international footprint.

I am also pleased to report that East West has been recognized by both Fortune and Forbes magazines. Fortune recently named East West as one of the 10 best stocks for 2011, the only banking institution to make the list. Additionally, Forbes magazine recently published that East West was number two bank for the best bank in the nation.

While the accolades and recognition are nice to hear, we know that we need to deliver strong earnings and shareholder value year-in and year-out and we are confident that we will be able to do so.

In our earnings release, we provide guidance for the first quarter and full year of 2011. We currently estimated that fully diluted earnings per share for the full year of 2011 will range from $1.44 to $1.48 or an increase of approximately 73% to 78% from 2010. This earning per share guidance is placed on overall asset growth of approximately 5%, provision for loan losses of $95 million to $100 million and an adjusted net interest margin between 4.15% and 4.25%.

We currently estimated that fully diluted earning per share for the first quarter of 2011 will be from $0.33 to $0.35 per diluted share. This earning per share guidance is based on the following assumptions. A stable balance sheet, a stable interest rate environment and a net interest margin between 4.15% and 4.2%; provision for loan losses of approximately $25 million $30 million for the quarter, and non-interest expense of approximately $100 million net of amounts to be reimbursed by the FDIC. Lastly, effective tax rate of approximately 36%.

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