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Business in brief: AmericanWest’s results stabilize

AmericanWest Bancorporation reported losses for the second quarter and first half of 2009, but Chief Executive Officer Patrick Rusnak said Thursday that some benchmarks indicate the Spokane-based institution’s finances have begun to stabilize.

The net loss for the quarter was $10.5 million, or 61 cents per share, compared with $6.2 million, or 36 cents per share, a year ago. For the first half of the year, the loss was $25.1 million, or $1.46 per share, compared with $37.8 million, or $2.19 per share, for the 2008 period, during which the bank took a $27 million charge for impaired goodwill.

Total assets as of June 30 were $1.78 billion, down from $2.11 billion for June 30, 2008. Net loans as of June 30, at $1.44 billion, declined 17 percent compared with June 30, 2008. The $11.8 million provision for loan losses edged lower from first-quarter and year-ago levels, while charge-offs, at $19.8 million, increased.

Deposits have held steady around $1.5 billion.

Rusnak said deposit stability and a “dramatic reduction” in the growth of nonperforming assets “are indicators that things are headed in the right direction, albeit at a much slower pace than we would like.”

Bert Caldwell

Clearwater gains from tax credits

Clearwater Paper Corp. reported improved second-quarter results, stemming from federal credits for alternative fuels.

The company reported $75.4 million in earnings, compared to earnings of $5 million during the second quarter of 2008.

Clearwater Paper, which spun off from Potlatch Corp., operates pulp and paper mills and a sawmill in Lewiston.

The company uses “black liquor,” a byproduct of pulp manufacturing, to produce energy. The alternative fuel tax credit was worth $76.4 million during the second quarter.

Becky Kramer

Smelter going to full capacity

VANCOUVER, B.C – Teck Resources Ltd. said it will return its smelter in Trail, B.C., to full production by Sept. 1.

The smelter dropped production by 80 percent in December as the weak economy depressed demand for metals. Strengthening demand from customers has depleted stockpiles of refined metals, company officials said. Orders from steel mill clients are up 40 percent over the beginning of the year.

As the smelter returns to full capacity, Teck will use zinc concentrate from its Red Dog Mine in Alaska to boost production.

In February, Teck closed its Pend Oreille Mine in northeast Washington indefinitely because of declining zinc orders.

Becky Kramer