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Center Financial Corporation Ranked in Sandler O'Neill's Class of 2004 Sm-All Stars; Survey Identifies Center Bank as a Top-Performing Small-Capitalization Bank.

LOS ANGELES -- Center Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:CLFC) today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Center Bank, has been ranked as one of the top performing small-capitalization banks in the U.S. by investment banking firm Sandler O'Neill. In its "Class of 2004 Bank and Thrift Sm-All Stars" ranking, Sandler O'Neill picked the 30 best performing small-capitalization institutions among a field of 592 publicly traded banks and thrifts in the U.S. with a market capitalizations of less than $2 billion. Inclusion as a Sm-All Star was based on financial performance in eight distinct categories.

"We are gratified that our financial performance in such a rigorous review has been so highly honored," said (Paul) Seon-Hong Kim, Center Financial's chief executive officer. "This recognition underscores Center Bank's commitment to operating excellence in community banking."

The survey focused on growth, profitability, credit quality, and capital strength, using eight financial variables. To incorporate fundamental momentum in the evaluation, (1) EPS growth, (2) loan and (3) deposit growth trends were evaluated. As a measure of profitability, (4) ROAE was included. In terms of asset quality, (5) nonperforming assets to loans plus OREO ratio and the (6) net charge-off ratio were included. Finally, (7) reserve to nonperforming assets ratio and (8) Tier 1 ratio provided an indication of capital levels. With the exception of the Tier 1 ratio, the peer median for all banks and thrifts for each financial variable over the time frame being evaluated was utilized. To earn Sm-All Star status, the banks and thrifts needed to be at or above the peer median for the first seven metrics surveyed plus be considered "Well Capitalized" per the Tier 1 ratio.

About Center Financial Corporation

Center Financial Corporation, the financial holding company of Center Bank, had total assets of $1.1 billion at March 31, 2004. Founded in 1986, Center Bank is a community bank offering a full range of financial services and is one of the nation's largest financial institutions focusing on the Korean-American community. It specializes in commercial and SBA loans and trade finance products for multi-ethnic and small business customers. Center Bank operates 14 full-service branches in Southern California and Chicago, plus five loan production offices located in Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. Center Bank is a California state-chartered and FDIC-insured financial institution.

This release may contain forward-looking statements, which are included in accordance with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The cautionary statements contained in Center Financial Corporation's filings made from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission are incorporated herein by reference. Actual results and performance in future periods may be materially different from any future results or performance suggested by the forward-looking statements in this release. Center Financial Corporation and Center Bank caution readers not to place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release. Center Financial Corporation and Center Bank expressly disclaim any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements found herein to reflect any changes in any of the companies' expectations of results or any change in events.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 8, 2004
Words:524
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