First California Financial Group’s first-quarter profits plummeted 83.3 percent to $2.6 million, it reported on April 26. Per share, earnings were 8 cents, compared to 54 cents in the same quarter a year earlier.
The Westlake Village-based parent of First California Bank said last year’s first-quarter results included a one-time $34.7 million pre-tax gain related to the FDIC-assisted purchase of San Luis Trust Bank.
In a statement, First California CEO and President C.G. Kum said the most recent quarter’s results “reflect the investments and decisions we made in 2011 to strengthen our business and ramp up loan growth.” Net interest income in the quarter jumped 26.5 percent to $16.2 million. Deposits climbed 3.2 percent.
The bank’s provision for loan losses drop to $500,000 from $2.5 million a year earlier.
Service charges, fees and other income more than doubled to $2.5 million from $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2011, growth the bank attributed to its electronic banking division, which includes services such as prepaid debit cards and payroll cards.
First California said that it has hired 36 people over the last year associated with its acquisition of San Luis Trust and the electronic banking division, as well as additional lending teams. As of the end of March, the bank had 296 employees.
“Our main goals for 2012 are loan and deposit growth through organic growth initiatives, [to] improve our efficiency ratio to the low 60s by the fourth quarter and continue to increase core earnings,” Kum said in the statement.“Our strong first quarter has put us on track to achieve each of these goals.”
First California shares dropped 2.7 percent to $5.48 in morning trading after the earnings release.[wikichart align=”center” ticker=”FCAL” showannotations=”true” livequote=”true” rollingdate=”6 months” width=”390″ height=”245″]