Westamerica Bancorp. in San Rafael, Calif., said Wednesday that it earned just $44,000 in the third quarter after taking an impairment charge of roughly $24 million on its investment in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock.

The $4.3 billion-asset Westamerica, historically one of the banking industry's most profitable and efficient companies, had earned $22 million, or 74 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter last year.

The Fannie and Freddie preferred shares have lost much of their value since the government took over the government-sponsored enterprises last month. At Sept. 30, Westamerica's Fannie and Freddie holdings were valued at $2.8 million. Three months earlier they had been valued at $44.5 million, according to a report released in August by KBW Inc.'s Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

Despite the large impairment charge, Westamerica said it remains well capitalized.

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