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. But as Warren Buffett has mused, 'If you've been playing poker for half an hour and you still don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy.' When they buy such story stocks, investors are all too often the patsy.
In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like West Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WTBA), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
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West Bancorporation's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. Over the last three years, West Bancorporation has grown EPS by 7.3% per year. That might not be particularly high growth, but it does show that per-share earnings are moving steadily in the right direction.
Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. Not all of West Bancorporation'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. West Bancorporation reported flat revenue and EBIT margins over the last year. That's not bad, but it doesn't point to ongoing future growth, either.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
While profitability drives the upside, prudent investors always check the balance sheet, too.
Are West Bancorporation Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.
We note that West Bancorporation insiders spent US$161k on stock, over the last year; in contrast, we didn't see any selling. That puts the company in a nice light, as it makes me think its leaders are feeling confident. Zooming in, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Director George Milligan for US$106k worth of shares, at about US$21.29 per share.
I do like that insiders have been buying shares in West Bancorporation, but there is more evidence of shareholder friendly management. I refer to the very reasonable level of CEO pay. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like West Bancorporation with market caps between US$200m and US$800m is about US$1.8m.
The West Bancorporation CEO received US$1.1m in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. 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. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Does West Bancorporation Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
As I already mentioned, West Bancorporation is a growing business, which is what I like to see. And that's not all, folks. We've also seen insiders buying stock, and noted modest executive pay. The sum of all that, for me, points to a quality business, and a genuine prospect for further research. Once you've identified a business you like, the next step is to consider what you think it's worth. And right now is your chance to view our exclusive discounted cashflow valuation of West Bancorporation. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of West Bancorporation, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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