Cathay General Bancorp said its net income jumped 38 percent in the first quarter, largely due to higher interest income.

The county’s third largest local bank, which targets Los Angeles’ Asian community, late Tuesday reported net income of $24.8 million (32 cents a share), compared with $18 million (23 cents) in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Capital IQ on average expected net income of 29 cents.

Net interest income, before provision for credit losses, rose 7.4 percent to $80.7 million.

Non-interest income fell 30 percent to $8.8 million. Core deposits rose at an annualized rate of 19 percent in the first quarter, which the bank partially credited to a successful Chinese New Year small-CD promotion.

"We are pleased with the improvement in credit quality metrics achieved in the first quarter,” said Chief Executive Dunson Cheng in a statement. “Through a focus on resolving problem loans, we were able to reduce classified loans by over 28 percent during the first quarter."

Shares on Wednesday closed down 10 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $17.48 on the Nasdaq.

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