Westamerica Bancorp (WABC) of San Rafael, Calif., posted net income of $16.1 million for the fourth quarter, a 16.1% decrease from a year earlier.

The $4.87 billion-asset company’s earnings per share of 60 cents missed the average analyst estimate by a penny.

Net interest income fell by 13.5%, to $40.1 million. Westamerica attributed the decline in part to reductions in yields on loans and investment securities as a result of low market interest rates. Net interest income was also pressured by reduced loan volumes, which forced the company to park more of its deposits in lower-yielding investment securities.

The net interest margin tightened 57 basis points from a year earlier and nine basis points from the third quarter. Net loan losses charged against the allowance for loan losses declined to $1.8 million from $3.5 million a year earlier.

"Low market interest rates continue to pressure our net interest margin," Westamerica chief executive David Payne said in a press release.

Westamerica reduced the provision for loan losses to $1.6 million, from $1.8 million in the third quarter and $2.8 million a year earlier.

Noninterest income declined slightly, from $14.2 million to $14 million. Non-interest expenses held steady from the previous quarter and from a year earlier at $28 million.

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