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.

Robert Eberhard has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. 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.