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Here's Why I Think Washington Trust Bancorp (NASDAQ:WASH) Is An Interesting Stock

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·4 min read
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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. 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 Washington Trust Bancorp (NASDAQ:WASH), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. 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 Washington Trust Bancorp

How Quickly Is Washington Trust Bancorp Increasing Earnings Per Share?

If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. We can see that in the last three years Washington Trust Bancorp grew its EPS by 16% per year. That's a good rate of growth, if it can be sustained.

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 Washington Trust 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 Washington Trust Bancorp's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 17% to US$229m. That's progress.

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.

earnings-and-revenue-history
earnings-and-revenue-history

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 Washington Trust Bancorp's future profits.

Are Washington Trust 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. So it is good to see that Washington Trust Bancorp insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Indeed, they hold US$21m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 2.4% 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 Washington Trust Bancorp with market caps between US$400m and US$1.6b is about US$2.3m.

The Washington Trust Bancorp CEO received US$1.6m in compensation for the year ending . 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.

Is Washington Trust Bancorp Worth Keeping An Eye On?

One positive for Washington Trust Bancorp is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for Washington Trust Bancorp, but the fun does not stop there. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I'd argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. Don't forget that there may still be risks. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Washington Trust Bancorp (1 doesn't sit too well with us) you should be aware of.

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.

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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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