For the first time in three years, the three banks of Western Alliance Bancorporation in Phoenix all turned a profit in the first quarter.

Powered largely by improved credit quality, the $6.4 billion-asset parent of Western Alliance Bank in Phoenix, Bank of Nevada in Las Vegas and Torrey Pines Bank in San Diego said Monday that it earned $5.2 million in the quarter that ended March 31, up more than 1,200% from the same period in 2010.

The improvement was particularly noteworthy at Bank of Nevada, which swung from a $3 million loss in the first quarter of 2010 to a profit of $894,000 in this year's first quarter. Key to Bank of Nevada's first-quarter success was a 68% drop in its provision for credit losses, to $7 million.

Overall, Western Alliance Bancorporation said that its provision for credit losses year over year declined by 65%, to $10 million, and that nonperforming assets fell from 4.2% of total assets in the first quarter of 2010 to 3.3% in this year's first quarter.

Solid loan demand also helped drive earnings growth. The company said that total loans increased roughly 5% year from last year's first quarter, to nearly $4.3 billion.

Western Alliance's shares were up 1.6% at midday Monday, to $7.83.

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