Annie get your checkbook? Maybe not as wild as Buffalo Bill's West, but Westamerica Bancorporation still shoots high with its subsidiary Westamerica Bank. The bank operates about 100 branches in Northern and Central California. It offers individuals and businesses such standard fare as checking and savings accounts, as well as electronic banking, trust services, and credit cards. It focuses on the banking needs of small businesses; business loans and commercial mortgages together account for more than half of the company's loan portfolio. Westamerica Bank, chartered in 1884, also originates construction, residential mortgage, and consumer loans.
Westamerica Bank subsidiary Community Banker Services Corporation provides the company and its other subsidiaries with data processing and various support services.
The company's conservative lending practices (it avoided the clamor towards subprime lending) and operating principals helped it weather the economic recession better than some of its banking peers. However, the company's revenues and profits have fallen since 2009, when Westamerica netted a record $125 million. In 2011 net income fell 7% to $88 million (versus the $95 million it made in 2010), partly due to higher expenses as the company absorbed the operations of the recently acquired Sonoma Valley Bank. Revenues also fell 5% to $268 million. The declines were attributed to interest and fee earnings, which fell as the company's lending activities slowed down and regulatory changes limited the amount of service charges banks can charge. (However, both merchant processing fees and trust fees increased as those businesses grew.)
Over the years, Westamerica has grown through acquisitions of other banks. In 2010 it added three branches in northern California when it acquired most of the assets and deposits of the failed Sonoma Valley Bank; the deal included loss-sharing agreements with the FDIC. That deal followed a similar transaction, when the bank acquired County Bank after it was seized by regulators. That deal added nearly 40 branches to Westamerica Bank's network, most of them in California's Central Valley.
Westamerica is currently not seeking to aggressively grow its loan portfolio, especially in light of lower yields and soft demand. – less