Earnings at Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC) soared in the fourth quarter after the Los Angeles company opted not to set aside funds for problem loans.

The holding company of the $2.8 billion-asset Wilshire State Bank earned $15.2 million in the quarter, a 162% increase from a year ago. Per-share earnings of 21 cents came 3 cents above what analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected.

Wilshire's quarterly profit jump was due mainly to a negative provision for loan losses. The bank recorded a $12 million credit for the quarter, compared to a $1.5 million provision for loan losses it took in the year-prior period.

Wilshire's net interest income rose 2%, to $25.6 million, as a 4% slide in interest income was offset by a 30% decline in interest expense. Its interest margin widened by 16 basis points, to 4.33%, and chargeoffs declined 26%, to $3 million.

Noninterest income rose 17%, to $6.7 million, as Wilshire's profit on loan sales more than tripled, to $1.2 million.

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