Westamerica Bancorp. (WABC) in San Rafael, Calif., reported a dip in profits because of fewer customer transactions and a decline in loan revenue.

The company earned $15.3 million in the fourth quarter, down 11% from the same period a year ago. At 58 cents per share, earnings met the expectations of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Westamerica's net interest income totaled $38.9 million, an 11% decline. The $4.9 billion-asset company said in a Tuesday press release that the low interest rate environment had suppressed revenue on many of its loan products. Now that interest rates are on the rise, Westamerica is "reducing its exposure … by purchasing shorter-duration investment securities, which carry lower yields than longer-duration securities."

The company's net interest margin was 3.83%, down 44 basis points from the same period a year ago.

Noninterest income totaled $13 million, down 9% from the same time a year ago. The decline was driven by a slowdown in customer activity, which pushed down revenue from service charges on deposits along with other service and ATM processing fees. 

Noninterest expenses dipped to $26.9 million, a 6% decline. Westamerica lowered other real estate owned expenses as well as costs from professional fees.

The company reduced its loan-loss provision by 64%, to $1 million.

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