Bankoh tops U.S. banks, Forbes magazine says


POSTED: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Bank of Hawaii is the top-performing bank in the United States, according to Forbes magazine.

“;It's not just us, it's also Wall Street that says Bank of Hawaii ... is the strongest bank out there,”; said Kurt Badenhausen, Forbes reporter.

It is the first time Forbes has prepared this list, and it might make it annual.

Badenhausen was surprised that Bankoh beat out big, nationally known financial institutions, but not just because it's way out here in the middle of the Pacific rather than in a proper mainland money Mecca.

The reason it was surprising, he said, “;is the fact that Hawaii is very reliant on tourism”; and the severe impact the recession-spurred tourism downturn has had on top visitor destinations including Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla.

“;So from that standpoint, I was a bit surprised, but if you look at the numbers, they've had very strong performance. ... It's a very well-capitalized bank with a strong quality of assets.”;

Badenhausen added, “;If you look at where the bank trades on Wall Street, in terms of price-to-book value, which is how most people look at sound ways to value banks, they trade at the highest multiple of all the largest banks.”;

Wall Street analyst Brett Rabatin agreed that Bankoh's ranking was well earned.

“;Bank of Hawaii is deservedly mentioned for a couple of reasons,”; said the senior research analyst of Sterne Agee, based in Alabama.

“;They've, over the past seven or eight years especially, made huge improvements in their profitability levels, and the management team has been very focused on credit quality, which has helped through this recession,”; he said.

Conservative management meant the bank “;didn't have to take the TARP (bailout) or raise capital, and it continues to report solid earnings per share in an environment that made mainland institutions cut dividends ... and restructure operations to try and improve efficiencies,”; Rabatin said.

Forbes' coverage quotes Al Landon, Bankoh chairman and chief executive officer, as saying, “;Boring is good.”;

The recognition “;reflects positively on our bank,”; Landon said in a statement about the coverage. “;Although we do not seek recognition, our employees and those we serve should take pride in the Bank of Hawaii financial performance, especially during a difficult economic environment.”;

Forbes and Virginia-based SNL Financial reviewed eight financial measures, ranking the banks in each, then each rank was added together, giving Bankoh the top spot.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).