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Does First Bank (NASDAQ:FRBA) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without revenue, let alone profit. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in First Bank (NASDAQ:FRBA). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.

View our latest analysis for First Bank

First Bank's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. Who among us would not applaud First Bank's stratospheric annual EPS growth of 37%, compound, over the last three years? While that sort of growth rate isn't sustainable for long, it certainly catches my attention; like a glint in the eye of my lover.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. Not all of First Bank's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. First Bank maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 32% to US$57m. That's progress.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

NasdaqGM:FRBA Income Statement, June 14th 2019

Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for First Bank.

Are First Bank Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.

In the last twelve months First Bank insiders spent US$27k on stock; good news for shareholders. This might not be a huge sum, but it's well worth noting anyway, given the complete lack of selling.

Along with the insider buying, another encouraging sign for First Bank is that insiders, as a group, have a considerable shareholding. Indeed, they hold US$17m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Those holdings account for over 7.9% of the company; visible skin in the game.

While insiders are apparently happy to hold and accumulate shares, that is just part of the pretty picture. That's because on our analysis the CEO, Patrick Ryan, is paid less than the median for similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like First Bank with market caps between US$100m and US$400m is about US$1.1m.

The First Bank CEO received US$785k in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO compensation is hardly the most important aspect of a company to consider, but when its reasonable that does give me a little more confidence that leadership are looking out for shareholder interests. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.

Does First Bank Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

First Bank's earnings per share growth has been so hot recently that thinking about it is making me blush. Better yet, we can observe insider buying and the chief executive pay looks reasonable. The strong EPS growth suggests First Bank may be at an inflection point. If so, then it the potential for further gains probably merit a spot on your watchlist. Now, you could try to make up your mind on First Bank by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But First Bank isn't the only one. You can see a a free list of them here.

Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.