East West Bancorp Earnings: What to Watch For

Earnings season is here once again. We're only a few days in, but we have already seen some impressive numbers from banking behemoths JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) , and Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) preparing to release its earnings Wednesday morning. While these results are important to those of us that follow the banking sector, my interest lies in some of the smaller banks beyond the behemoths.

With that in mind, I turn my attention to another bank that will be reporting earnings Wednesday morning. Here are some things I will be watching when it comes to East West Bancorp (Nasdaq: EWBC  ) .

The usual numbers everyone cares about
Analysts are expecting a decrease in revenue over last year, estimating $203.9 million as the revenue number for the bank. On the earnings side, the consensus is $0.47 a share, which would be a 15% increase over the same period last year. East West has been fairly consistent over the past four quarters, with average EPS checking in at $0.44, so the expected $0.47 should be well within reach.

Asset quality remains strong
The second quarter saw total nonperforming assets at East West below 1% for the 11th quarter in a row, an astounding accomplishment as most banks continue to clean up balance sheets of toxic loans. Its capital ratios are also very strong, with $952 million of excess assets beyond what is required to be considered "well capitalized." Asset quality at these levels only bodes well for the future performance of the bank.

Other things to look for
With such staggering recent performance, I am surprised that the bank only pays out 17% of its earnings as dividends, resulting in a yield near 2%. It could be worse, however, as its dividend was doubled in January to its current $0.10 per quarter, but I could easily see the bank increasing its dividend again next quarter if its performance continues along its recent trajectory. If it does so, it might be worthwhile to get in on the magic before everyone else finds out about it.

With so many of the big finance firms getting bad press these days, you may be inclined to stay away from the sector entirely, but that could be a huge mistake. In fact, some of the best opportunities over the next few years can be found there, including one small, under-the-radar bank. It’s been called one of The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying. You can learn about it, and more, in our exclusive free report. Just click here to keep reading.

Robert Eberhard has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Follow him on Twitter, or click here to view his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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