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Here's Why I Think Peoples Bancorp (NASDAQ:PEBO) Might Deserve Your Attention Today

Simply Wall St

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.

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Peoples Bancorp (NASDAQ:PEBO), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Peoples Bancorp

Peoples Bancorp's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

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. Impressively, Peoples Bancorp has grown EPS by 22% per year, compound, in the last three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

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. I note that Peoples Bancorp's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. While we note Peoples Bancorp's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 13% to US$199m. 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:PEBO Income Statement, January 15th 2020

You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for Peoples Bancorp's future profits.

Are Peoples Bancorp Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Peoples Bancorp shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold US$19m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 2.7% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Peoples Bancorp with market caps between US$400m and US$1.6b is about US$2.5m.

Peoples Bancorp offered total compensation worth US$1.4m to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. 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.

Is Peoples Bancorp Worth Keeping An Eye On?

For growth investors like me, Peoples Bancorp's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If that's not enough, consider also that the CEO pay is quite reasonable, and insiders are well-invested alongside other shareholders. Each to their own, but I think all this makes Peoples Bancorp look rather interesting indeed. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Peoples Bancorp by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

Although Peoples Bancorp certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.

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.

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