RIVERSIDE, Calif. (1/27/11)--Altura CU Tuesday, located in California's Inland Empire area hard hit by the recession, reported a net income of $2.9 million for fourth quarter 2010--its best results since third quarter of 2006, said Altura CEO Mark Hawkins. The Riverside, Calif.-based credit union also improved its net worth ratio to 6.18% for the year ended Dec. 31, up from 2009's net worth of 5.61% and first quarter 2010, and first quarter 2010's net worth of 4.96%. Federal regulators consider 7% to be well-capitalized. As of Dec. 31, Altura had $726.8 million in total assets and a loss of $2.8 million, unaudited. This compared to $860.1 million in assets and a net loss of $20.1 million (revised) for 2009. Also, the net loss for 2009 was revised downward from $10.4 million after an independent audit and more funds allocated to allowance for loan and lease losses. "Clearly, there are no quick fixes in a marketplace that still is troubled," Hawkins said in a press release. "However, we are seeing conditions stabilize. We aren't seeing job losses at the same pace as last year, and home values aren't declining at the same pace as last year, which is a relative improvement, he said. He noted that in the current economic conditions, loan demand remains low, resulting in a reduced emphasis on growing assets. "We just don't need the addition of shares right now with loan demand remaining at historic lows," he said. During the past three years, the credit union focused on reducing operating expenses. Operating costs for December were down about $600,000 compared with December 2009. Year over year, its costs of operation are down more than $2 million. "We have closed underperforming branch locations, reduced staff and renegotiated various contracts to significantly lower our operating costs while still focusing on delivering the products and services our members need," Hawkins said. This month, the efforts continued with the merger of Altura's two Hemet branches. "This last quarter was very strong for us, and December was above our projections," he said, adding that throughout 2011 Altura will remain focused on members' needs and take steps "to ensure Altura is well-positioned meet those needs now and in the future."