East West Bancorp (NASDAQ:EWBC) reported earnings for its third quarter yesterday afternoon, and the California-based regional bank appears to have gone well. Net income increased 14% from the same quarter last year to $71.1 million, and earnings per share came in just above analysts' expectations at $0.48, an increase of 17% from last year. The bank with a strong link to Greater China experienced its seventh consecutive quarter of earnings-per-share growth, and continuing success may be ahead.

What I was watching
In addition to the income and EPS numbers referenced above, I was also watching for continued improvement nonperforming assets. The bank reported total nonperforming assets below 1% for the 12th consecutive quarter, but nevertheless saw a slight decrease to its capital ratios. Last quarter saw $952 million in total assets beyond the minimal requirements to be considered "well capitalized." This number decreased to $885 million, but it is still well above the minimum requirements.

What to expect going forward
I am still hoping for the bank to improve the quality of its dividend, but if an increase is to happen, I would anticipate it happen with the release of fourth-quarter earnings in January. With a payout ratio around 17%, there is plenty of room to grow the dividend next year. In the meantime, the bank repurchased 2.3 million shares during the quarter, returning additional value to shareholders.