Cathay General Bancorp on Tuesday reported lower first quarter net income as the company continued to pay down money it borrowed from the U.S. Treasury during the recession.

After the markets closed, the The third largest Los Angeles County-based bank by assets reported net income of $23.7 million (30 cents a share) down 6 percent (2 cents) from the same period a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected Cathay to earn 31 cents a share.

Net interest income fell 1 percent to $80 million, with non-interest income jumping 69 percent to $14.9 million. The bank last month bought back $129 million worth of preferred stock it issued under the U.S. Treasury's TARP Capital Purchase Program.

"We … intend to continue working toward redeeming the remaining preferred stock as soon as possible,” Chief Executive Dunson Cheng said in a statement.

Shares earlier closed up 31 cents, or 2 percent, to $18.71 on the Nasdaq.

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