Westamerica Bancorporation (Nasdaq: WABC), parent company of Westamerica Bank, generated net income for the first quarter 2020 of $17.0 million and diluted earnings per common share (“EPS”) of $0.63. First quarter 2020 results include a provision for credit losses of $4.3 million, which reduced EPS $0.11, representing Management’s estimate of additional reserves needed over the remaining life of its loans due to increased credit-risk from deteriorating economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These results compare to net income of $20.7 million and EPS of $0.77 for the fourth quarter 2019 and net income of $19.6 million and EPS of $0.73 for the first quarter 2019.
“Westamerica’s primary objective during the COVID-19 pandemic is to operate without interruption for our customers. As of today, our staffing levels are unaffected, our operating systems remain fully functional, and all but one of our branches are open. The business environment is highly uncertain at this time given the COVID-19 impacts on society and the economy,” said Chairman, President and CEO David Payne. “The well-being of our customers, employees and communities is of principal concern during this difficult period.”
Westamerica’s annualized net interest margin increased to 3.10 percent for the first quarter 2020 from 3.08 percent in the fourth quarter 2019. Operating expenses were $24.7 million for the first quarter 2020, representing only 47 percent of revenues on a fully-taxable equivalent basis. First quarter 2020 results generated an annualized 9.7 percent return on average common equity, and shareholders were paid a $0.41 per common share dividend during the quarter.
Net interest income on a fully-taxable equivalent (FTE) basis was $40.5 million for the first quarter 2020, compared to $40.5 million for the fourth quarter 2019 and $40.2 million for the first quarter 2019. The Federal Open Market Committee (“FOMC”) reduced the interest rate paid on required reserves and excess reserve balances to 0.10 percent on March 16, 2020, which reduced the interest earned on Westamerica’s interest-bearing cash balances. Westamerica has taken loan applications under the United States Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Westamerica’s interest-bearing loans and investment securities are funded exclusively by shareholders’ equity and customers’ deposits. Checking and savings deposits represented 96 percent of the Company’s average deposit base during the first quarter 2020.
Average deposit volumes during the first quarter 2020 of $4,829 million were stable compared to average deposit volumes during the fourth quarter 2019 and first quarter 2019 of $4,840 million and $4,835 million, respectively. The Company has no debt.
Westamerica Bancorporation’s wholly owned subsidiary Westamerica Bank, operates commercial banking and trust offices throughout Northern and Central California.