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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 11:25 a.m., Tuesday, April 17, 2001

BancWest quarterly profit up 14.3%

By Frank Cho
Advertiser Staff Writer

BancWest Corp., parent company of First Hawaiian Bank, said today its first-quarter profit from operations rose 14.3 percent, to $56.5 million, compared with the same quarter a year ago, reflecting higher income from both fees and loans.

BancWest, the state's largest financial services company with $19.4 billion in assets, recorded a first-quarter after-tax gain of $24.6 million from the sale of the company's interest in Star Systems Inc., and $2.4 million of integration costs related to the acquisition of 30 bank branches in New Mexico and Nevada.

When one-time events are excluded, net income at BancWest rose 24.9 percent to $61.8 million for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $49.4 million in the year-earlier period.

On a per-share basis, profits were up 22.5 percent, to 49 cents a share, compared with 40 cents in 2000.

"Despite the unusual items recorded during the quarter, the bottom line is that our operating earnings continue on a solid track of double-digit growth, and our latest acquisitions have operationally come on line smoothly," said Walter Dods, BancWest's chairman and chief executive officer.

Increased concerns over the slowing Mainland economy also caused the company to increase its provision for loan losses 173 percent to $35.2 million, up from $12.9 million in the same quarter a year ago.

"We believe that increased loan loss provision this quarter is necessary and prudent given the continued concern about the economic slowdown nationally and in California," Dods said.

The company said it is also worried about agricultural lending in the Pacific Northwest and the purchase of additional loans with branches in New Mexico and Nevada.

The company released its earnings after the close of the market. Its shares closed today at $24.33, down 28 cents.