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East West and Cathay banks report higher first-quarter earnings

The two largest Chinese-American banks reported higher first-quarter earnings on solid loan growth, with profit up 6% at Pasadena's East West Bancorp and 9% at Los Angeles' Cathay General Bancorp.

East West, with total assets of $27.4 billion, said Wednesday that it earned $76.7 million, or 54 cents per share. That compared with $72.1 million, 50 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. 

The results included $10.6 million in merger costs related to East West's acquisition of MetroCorp Bancshares Inc., a Texas bank, in January. That lowered per-share earnings by 4 cents.

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Cathay General, with $11.3 billion in assets, said it earned $31.3 million, or 39 cents a share, up from $28.8 million, or 30 cents a share.

Cathay's per-share earnings got a boost when it paid off its remaining bailout-era debt from the  federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program in September, allowing the bank to stop paying dividends to Uncle Sam. 

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