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Tuesday, April 18, 2000

First Hawaiian’s
parent posts
record quarter

The improved earnings
match analysts' estimates

By Russ Lynch


BancWest Corp., parent of First Hawaiian Bank, today reported its best-ever quarterly earnings, showing a first-quarter net of $49.4 million, up 16.2 percent from $42.5 million in the 1999 quarter.

BancWest Per-share earnings of 40 cents were up 17.6 percent from a year-earlier 34 cents, matching the average estimate of six Wall Street analysts who follow the company.

Walter A. Dods Jr., BancWest chairman and chief executive, attributed the improved performance to three factors: increasing the company's geographic diversity; raising revenues in the company's core product lines; and cutting costs by combining operations.

The latest quarter's results include a restatement of the figures for the first quarter of last year to show what they would have been if BancWest had owned SierraWest Bank at the time. BancWest acquired the Truckee, Calif.-based bank in July 1999.

Art Net interest income -- the difference between what banks pay to attract deposits and the what they make from charging interest on loans -- was up 6.5 percent at $179.3 million, compared with $168.4 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Noninterest income -- such as services charges and fees for trust and investment services -- was up 6.8 percent at $50 million in the latest quarter, from $46.8 million in the 1999 period.

"Investment sales and management are an increasingly important source of earnings for us," Dods said.

BancWest also had a 49.5 percent increase from last year in income from processing credit card and debit card transactions for merchants.

During the latest quarter, BancWest consolidated the data-processing operations from its businesses on the mainland into a unit in Honolulu, increasing efficiency, the company said.

BancWest reported one disappointment for the quarter: the failure of its plan to buy 68 bank branches in Utah and Idaho from Zions Bancorp. and First Security Corp. The two mainland banks had been seeking to unload the branches as part of a planned merger. BancWest had agreed to pay $660 million for the branches but the deal fell through when Zion shareholders voted against the merger with First Security, Dods said.

After the end of the first quarter, BancWest received $5 million in termination fees from Zions and First Security to reimburse it for expenses incurred in planning for the acquisition.

BancWest ended the latest quarter with assets of $17.5 billion, up 7.4 percent from $16.3 billion a year earlier.

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