Robust lending, stronger local economies, and better fundamentals enabled a handful of western banks and thrifts to meet or beat analysts' expectations for their first-quarter earnings.

"Loan growth and the strengthening California economy are the common themes," said Campbell Chaney, analyst with Sandler O'Neill Partners, Walnut Creek, Calif. "But to get that loan growth you have to cut prices, so revenue is hurting a little bit."

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