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Here's Why I Think Great Western Bancorp (NYSE:GWB) Is An Interesting Stock

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.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Great Western Bancorp (NYSE:GWB). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

See our latest analysis for Great Western Bancorp

How Fast Is Great Western Bancorp 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. Over the last three years, Great Western Bancorp has grown EPS by 11% per year. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it. And for those who like the finer details, I'll add that the EPS growth has been helped by share buybacks, demonstrating that the business is positioned to return capital to its shareholders.

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 Great Western Bancorp'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 Great Western Bancorp may have maintained EBIT margins over the last year, revenue has fallen. Suffice it to say that is not a great sign of growth.

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.

NYSE:GWB Income Statement, January 1st 2020

The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Great Western Bancorp EPS 100% free.

Are Great Western Bancorp Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.

We do note that Great Western Bancorp insiders netted -US$19.4k worth of shares over the last year. But the silver lining to that cloud is that Thomas Henning, the Lead Independent Director, spent US$58k buying shares at an average price of US$28.92. And that's a reason to be optimistic.

I do like that insiders have been buying shares in Great Western Bancorp, but there is more evidence of shareholder friendly management. I refer to the very reasonable level of CEO pay. For companies with market capitalizations between US$1.0b and US$3.2b, like Great Western Bancorp, the median CEO pay is around US$4.0m.

The Great Western Bancorp CEO received US$2.5m in compensation for the year ending September 2019. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Is Great Western Bancorp Worth Keeping An Eye On?

One positive for Great Western Bancorp is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. Like chocolate chips in vanilla ice cream, the insider buying, and modest CEO pay, make it better. If that doesn't automatically earn it a spot on your watchlist then I'd posit it warrants a closer look at the very least. Of course, just because Great Western Bancorp is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you're wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Great Western Bancorp 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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.