Despite strong asset and deposit growth, First PacTrust Bancorp Inc. swung to a loss in the fourth quarter as the Irvine, Calif., company sharply increased its loan-loss provision to reflect both a surge in total loans and an increase in impaired loans.

The $990 million-asset company said Thursday that it lost $5.6 million in the quarter, compared to a profit of $1.4 million in the same period in 2010. For the year, the company lost $2.7 million, versus a profit of $2.8 million in 2010.

The losses can be attributed, in part, to the company's rapid organic growth. Total loans increased 12%, to $787 million, from just three months earlier, and the company said it needed to set aside additional funds to support the growth. The company also said, however, that its total classified loans increased 9% in the three-month period, to $32.5 million.

For the quarter, First PacTrust's loan-loss provision was $4.1 million, up from $823,000 in the third quarter and $328,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

First PacTrust is one of Southern California's fastest-growing banks. Total assets increased by more than 15% year over year and are poised to grow significantly in 2012 as it completes its pending deals to acquire Gateway Bancorp Inc. in Cerritos, Calif., and Beach Business Bank in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Total deposits rose by more than 25% year over year, to $478 million.

In early trading Tursday, First PacTrust's shares were down 1.5%, to $11.77.

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