German public-sector bank WestLB said Monday that one-off charges had pushed it into a bottom-line loss for the third year in a row last year but that underlying earnings had improved. WestLB said in a statement it booked net loss of €920 million ($1.2 billion) in 2004, largely because it was ordered by the European Commission to repay state aid. It was the third consecutive year of losses as WestLB had booked net loss of € 2.32 billion in 2003 and €1.73 billion in 2002. Nevertheless, underlying earnings improved, with WestLB swinging to operating profit of €696.2 million last year from a year-earlier loss of €1.95 billion. "Given the economic environment, I'm satisfied with that," said chairman Thomas Fischer. "The trough has been passed and our bank is stable again."