Cathay General Bancorp announced third quarter results Wednesday that easily beat analysts’ expectations and sparked a 6 percent rise in the company’s stock price.

The Los Angeles-based bank company, which focuses on the Chinese-American community, reported net income of $17.3 million (17 cents a share), compared to a loss of $17.7 million (- 43 cents) in the third quarter of last year.

Analysts surveyed Thomson Reuters expected the company to post a loss equal to 5 cents a share.

In a statement, Cathay Chief Executive Dunson Cheng said fewer loan write-offs and a $300 million growth of new loans fueled the turnaround.

“For the first time in eight quarters, our loans increased,” he said. “We are hopeful that our profitability will continue to improve to our historical levels over the course of time.”

By midday Wednesday, shares of Cathay rose 78 cents or 6 percent to trade at $13.71 on the Nasdaq.

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