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Tuesday, October 17, 2000

earnings up 54.2%

First Hawaiian's parent says
improved efficiency helped it
post its best quarterly profit ever

By Russ Lynch

BancWest Corp. today reported its best-ever quarterly profit of $56.8 million, citing increased efficiency and improved performances at its two main subsidiaries -- Honolulu-based First Hawaiian Bank and San Francisco-headquartered Bank of the West.

BancWest The third-quarter profit was a 54.2 percent increase from a net of $36.9 million in the third quarter of last year.

However, the company said 1999's third-quarter figure included $10.3 million in one-time restructuring expenses. A more direct comparison would leave out that cost item, resulting in a 1999 third-quarter profit of $47.1 million, BancWest said today. That would make the year-over-year increase 20.6 percent.

The company's per-share profit in the latest quarter, 45 cents, was up 55.2 percent from the net of 29 cents a share, including the restructuring costs, reported for the 1999 quarter. Excluding those costs, BancWest earned 38 cents a share in the 1999 third quarter, resulting in an 18.4 percent increase this year.

The latest quarter's per-share results were slightly better than the 44.3 cent average estimate of eight Wall Street analysts who follow the company, according to a survey by I/B/E/S International.

BancWest's stock closed down 44 cents at $17.63 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company issued its earning report after the market closed. The shares are down 9.6 percent year to date and 11.5 percent from a year ago. Of six analysts who have rated the stock, four list it as a "buy" and two see it as a "hold."

Walter A. Dods Jr., BancWest chairman and chief executive officer, said the company improved its ratio of nonperforming assets, continuing a steady improvement that began five years.

"Our Western acquisition strategy is adding momentum, too, giving us a new opportunity to expand into the dynamic Albuquerque and Las Vegas areas early next year," Dods said.

BancWest -- formed in 1998 by the combination of First Hawaiian Inc. and the parent of Bank of the West -- acquired SierraWest Bancorp in July of last year. During the latest quarter, BancWest agreed to acquire 30 branches in New Mexico and Nevada from First Security Bank.

That deal is scheduled to be concluded in the first quarter of next year.

BancWest's assets grew to just under $18 billion by Sept. 30, an increase of 7.5 percent from a year-earlier $16.7 billion. Deposits of $13.8 billion were up 6.6 percent from $13 billion at the end of September 1999 and loans of $13.6 billion were up 10.2 percent from a year-earlier $12.3 billion.

Net interest income was up 8.2 percent at $189.8 million, vs. $175.5 million in the 1999 quarter, due mostly to loan growth on the mainland, the company said.

BancWest also reported a 15.2 percent increase noninterest income, to $53.6 million in the latest quarter, from a year-earlier $46.5 million. Included were fees from the sale of investment products such as annuities and mutual funds, income from processing credit cards, and trust and investment management fees.

BancWest said it controlled the growth of its expenses, limiting the rise in costs to 2 percent while assets, deposits and loans grew at a much faster rate.

For the first nine months of 2000, BancWest had a net profit of $160.2 million, up 29.3 percent from $123.9 million in the previous year. Excluding the 1999 restructuring costs, the nine-month profit increased 18.2 percent this year, from $135.5 million last year.

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