First California Financial Group, Inc., the Westlake Village holding company of First California Bank, reported $2.6 million in net income for first quarter ended March 31 compared with $15.6 million for the same quarter a year ago.

The company said earnings from core operations were in line with typical results and the first quarter in 2011 included a non-recurring $34.7 million pre-tax gain related to the FDIC-assisted acquisition of San Luis Trust Bank. First quarter earnings were down 10 percent from the fourth quarter net income of $2.9 million.

Net income available to common shareholders was $2.3 million, or 8 cents per diluted share, compared with $15.3 million, or 54 cents per diluted share for the prior year first quarter.

The company also reported that net interest revenues increased 27 percent to $16.2 million from $12.8 million for the 2011 first quarter. The increase reflects a higher level of loans and securities and loan yields, as well as a decrease in interest rates paid on interest-bearing liabilities, the company said.

C. G. Kum, president and chief executive officer of First California described the quarter as a “solid performance.”

"Our solid first quarter performance continued the bank's earnings momentum and reflect the investments and decisions we made in 2011 to strengthen our business and ramp up loan growth," he said in a prepared statement. "Our financial results for the quarter were driven by a doubling of fee income and a significant increase in net interest revenues. Moreover, these results represent all core earnings stemming from effective balance sheet management which generated healthy and sustainable net interest margin."

Fee income doubled to $2.5 million for the quarter from $1.2 million in the year-ago period.

Preferred dividends were $312,500 for each of the first quarters of 2012 and 2011. At March 31, 2012, tangible book value per common share was $4.36.

Shares in First California closed at $5.50, down 4 cents.

Judy Temes