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West Bancorp profits rise


West Bancorp. Inc., the parent company of West Des Moines State Bank, said first-quarter profits rose 6.1 percent as the bank made more money from investments and more customers deposited money in their accounts.

Net income rose to $4.05 million, or 25 cents per share, from $3.82 million, or 24 cents, a year ago. Total assets rose 4.7 percent to $853 million from $814.4 million.

West Bank continues to be one of the most profitable and efficient banks in the nation. In the most recent quarter, West Bank said its average return on equity was 19 percent, slightly below the 19.5 percent it posted during the first quarter last year. Net income has risen at the bank for 22 out of the past 24 years, according to Chicago-based Howe Barnes Investments Inc.

Consumers are increasingly putting money in money market accounts, the bank said. Though the total value of deposits fell slightly during the quarter from a year ago, the amount of money that customers put into savings accounts rose 16 percent to $285.1 million. Savings accounts make up nearly half of the bank’s total deposits.

“We’ve had more volume in investments because we’ve had more volume in deposits,” said Doug Gulling, West Bancorp.’s chief financial officer. “For the last year to year-and-a-half, we’ve seen our money market accounts expand.”

Non-interest income rose 14.7 percent to $1.7 million from $1.49 million, mostly because more non-customers used the bank’s automated teller machines. West Des Moines-based West Bancorp. has eight branches in Greater Des Moines.

Net loans rose slightly to $479.1 million from $477.6 million during the same period last year. The company said the composition of its loan portfolio hadn’t changed much over the year but added that the overall credit quality of those loans is improving. The amount of real estate the bank foreclosed on during the first quarter fell to $488,000 from $952.000.

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