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East West Upbeat About Future Despite Loss

Shares of East West Bancorp Inc. jumped 18 percent on Tuesday after the bank holding company said it turned from a profit to a loss in its third quarter due to charges, but projected a fourth quarter profit that exceeds Wall Street expectations.

The Pasadena parent of East West Bank blamed provisions for loan losses and securities impairment charges for a net loss of $31.2 million (-50 cents per share), compared with net income of $41.3 million (68 cents) a year ago. Net interest income for the quarter fell 17 percent to $86.5 million.

Excluding the charges, East West reported total pretax income of $48 million or (77 cents), exceeding the expectations of analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson, who on average expected the company to report loss of 13 cents per share.

Chief Executive Dominic Ng noted that the bank’s provision for loan losses was significantly less than the $85 million taken in the second quarter.

“We have taken measured actions to increase the allowance for loan losses and capital levels which are both substantially higher than all our peers,” said Ng in a statement. “We are well positioned to emerge from this most challenging economic cycle, stronger and fully able to capitalize on market opportunities.”

The company reiterated fourth quarter guidance that earnings will range from 11 to 13 cents per share, compared to analyst expectations of 9 cents. Management currently estimates that it will have to take provision for loan losses in the fourth quarter of around $35 million.

East West’s board declared a quarterly common stock cash dividend of 10 cents per share, which will be payable on Nov. 24 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 10.

East West shares closed up $2.28 to $15.16 in Nasdaq trading.

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