SANTA ROSA – Sterling Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: STSA), the Spokane, Wash.-based parent company of Sonoma Bank and Sterling Bank, today reported net income of $320.9 million during the three months ended June 30 and a shareholder dividend of 15 cents.

That income equaled $5.13 per diluted common share, compared with 21 cents per share – $13.3 million in income -- for the first quarter of 2012.

The jump in income was partially attributable to the release of a $288.8 million deferred tax asset. Excluding that asset, income was $32 million, a 141 percent increase from the first quarter and a 324 increase compared to the end of the second quarter in 2011.

Total assets at the bank reached $9.6 billion as of June 30, rising $97.2 million from the prior quarter and $357.9 million since the same period in 2011. Total loans were $6.4 billion, down from 6.1 billion in the prior quarter and up from $6 billion one year prior.

Nonperforming loans decreased to $265 million, continuing a downward trend from $396 million as of June 30 2011. The bank’s provision for loan losses was $2 million, compared to $4 million as of March 31 and $4.2 million one year ago.

The bank’s tier 1 leverage ratio climbed 1.3 percent from the prior year, to 12.2 percent as of June 30.  

Sterling’s board of directors approved a quarterly cash dividend of 15 cents per share for common stock, payable on Aug. 20 to shareholders of record as of Aug. 6.

Sterling Financial Corporation operates 186 branches throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

“Sterling had another quarter of strong financial performance, and, as expected, substantially all of the deferred tax asset was released,” said Greg Seibly, president and CEO. “After several quarters of improved performance, our capital position is healthier than at any point in the company’s history.”