APTOS "Santa Cruz County Bank is a standout among the 11 banks that opened in 2004," analyst Gary Findley told 67 stockholders attending the annual meeting at Bittersweet Bistro on Tuesday.

"Out of this class, you did something exceptional," said Findley, editor of the banking publication The Findley Report.

Only three of those 11 banks have positive undivided profits, indicating positive earnings since inception. The other eight have yet to go into the black; they include Charter Oak Bank in Napa, closed by state regulators in February, and 1st Century Bank in Los Angeles, with undivided profits at negative $13.8 million.

In contrast, Santa Cruz County Bank's undivided profits total $2.1 million. In the group of 11, only Redwood Capital Bank exceeded that number, with $2.3 million.

Findley named Santa Cruz County Bank a "Super Premier Performing Bank" for its 2010 performance. Only 19 banks in the state earned that recognition.

Findley said the first-quarter results "look strong," adding, "it looks like another repeat performance is in order."

David Heald, president and chief executive officer of Santa Cruz County Bank, pointed to growth.

"We grew the most in the county," he said, noting the bank's share of deposits in the market is 6 percent. "Last year we added 1,000 new customers."

Part of the draw was due to an excellent rating by Bauer Financial, which the bank has received for 10 consecutive quarters.

"People pay attention to these," Heald said. "It does drive business to the bank."

The bank ranked 10th in Silicon Valley among Small Business Administration lenders in number of loans, and seventh in volume in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It expanded lending opportunities last year by offering USDA Farm Services Agency loans for farmers to buy land.

"We get visibility from these types of programs," Heald said.

He said the bank has increased loan quality while increasing loans. The strategic plan calls for generating more non-interest income.

"You have to have non-interest income to be an above-average performer," he said, noting non-interest income grew from $1.98 million in 2009 to $2.76 million in 2010.

Fielding a question about when the bank might issue dividends, Heald said it depends on when the bank exceeds a 10 percent leverage ratio but declined to give a time frame.

"Hopefully we'll be able to accomplish that in the near future," he said.

As for the stock price, Heald said Santa Cruz County Bank is faring better than other banks.

"We're trading at about 80 percent," he said. "Most banks are trading at 50 to 60 percent."

The bank has taken back five commercial properties following foreclosures; none is located in Santa Cruz County and four of the five were backed by SBA loan guarantees, Heald said.

There are no plans to open additional branches or ATMs.

The Aptos branch opened in 2009, "sooner than we planned," Heald said, noting the availability of a building with teller stations next to competitors.

Shareholder Julie Mazurek called the bank's Scotts Valley branch as "very service-oriented," adding, "I refer as many people as I can."

Peter Boutell, co-owner of Santa Cruz Home Finance, said he's put his personal and business accounts with the locally owned bank.

"My money is safe," he said.