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Does MidWestOne Financial Group (NASDAQ:MOFG) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?' Leuz et. al. found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like MidWestOne Financial Group (NASDAQ:MOFG). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

See our latest analysis for MidWestOne Financial Group

How Quickly Is MidWestOne Financial Group Increasing Earnings Per Share?

If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. Over the last three years, MidWestOne Financial Group has grown EPS by 8.0% per year. That might not be particularly high growth, but it does show that per-share earnings are moving steadily in the right direction.

I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). Not all of MidWestOne Financial Group'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. While we note MidWestOne Financial Group's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 31% to US$149m. That's a real positive.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

NasdaqGS:MOFG Income Statement, November 6th 2019
NasdaqGS:MOFG Income Statement, November 6th 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 MidWestOne Financial Group.

Are MidWestOne Financial Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

It makes me feel more secure owning shares in a company if insiders also own shares, thusly more closely aligning our interests. So it is good to see that MidWestOne Financial Group insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. To be specific, they have US$45m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Those holdings account for over 7.9% of the company; visible skin in the game.

It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations between US$200m and US$800m, like MidWestOne Financial Group, the median CEO pay is around US$1.7m.

The MidWestOne Financial Group CEO received total compensation of just US$774k in the year to December 2018. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add MidWestOne Financial Group To Your Watchlist?

One positive for MidWestOne Financial Group is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. The fact that EPS is growing is a genuine positive for MidWestOne Financial Group, but the pretty picture gets better than that. With a meaningful level of insider ownership, and reasonable CEO pay, a reasonable mind might conclude that this is one stock worth watching. If you think MidWestOne Financial Group might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.

Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access 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.