East West Bank succeeding by focusing on #chineseamerican customer base in California.

(Barron’s) SHARES OF East West Bancorp (ticker: EWBC) should be heading north.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based regional bank, with $20 billion in assets, was hit hard early on in the downturn, but has since done an excellent job of refocusing and cleaning up its balance sheet, so much so that it’s completed two favorable Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-assisted acquisitions in the past year.

With a low stock valuation, plenty of room for growth, and a focus on the reliable Chinese-American market in California, East West shares should see continued gains.

The stock trades at just 12 times forward earnings, despite having profit margins above 70% and a long-term growth rate of 34%, almost quadruple the industry average.

East West stands out from its peers, according to Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Julianna Balicka, as it is “the only Chinese-American bank to make money in the second quarter of 2010 and the first Asian-American bank to return to sustainable profitability.”

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