Nara Bancorp Inc., the Koreatown bank holding company whose chief executive resigned last week, reported a significantly smaller fourth quarter net loss that barely beat Wall Street expectations.

The Los Angeles holding company for Nara Bank late Monday reported a net loss of $1.5 million (4 cents per share), compared with a net loss of $10.3 million (39 cents) a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report a per-share loss of 5 cents.

Net interest income before provision for loan losses rose 16 percent to $26.4 million. Non-interest income rose 164 percent to $5.4 million, primarily due to net gains from the sale of securities during the quarter.

However, Nara took a $17.8 million provision for loan losses in the fourth quarter, compared to $28 million in the same quarter the year before.

“We were able to substantially strengthen the bank’s financial position by raising $82 million in capital during the fourth quarter, said Chief Executive Alvin Kang in a press release. “We are well positioned to manage through the credit cycle, while also having the ability to capitalize on attractive opportunities that emerge in our target markets.”

Min Kim, a longtime Nara executive who had been CEO since 2006, resigned as CEO last week for personal reasons. The Koreatown bank holding company appointed Kang, who had been chief financial officer, to replace her.

Looking to the full year 2010, Nara said it expects a double-digit increase in net interest income primarily driven by an expanding net interest margin.

In a separate announcement, the company said independent director James P. Staes resigned from the board due to other commitments.

Shares were unchanged at $8.84 in midday trading on the Nasdaq.

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