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Here's Why I Think Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WABC) 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. But the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WABC), which has not only revenues, but also profits. 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 Westamerica Bancorporation

Westamerica Bancorporation'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. We can see that in the last three years Westamerica Bancorporation grew its EPS by 8.3% per year. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.

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 Westamerica 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. Westamerica 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.

You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

NasdaqGS:WABC Income Statement, December 24th 2019

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 Westamerica Bancorporation's future profits.

Are Westamerica Bancorporation 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. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Westamerica Bancorporation shares worth a considerable sum. Given insiders own a small fortune of shares, currently valued at US$74m, they have plenty of motivation to push the business to succeed. This should keep them focused on creating long term value for 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 Westamerica Bancorporation with market caps between US$1.0b and US$3.2b is about US$3.9m.

The CEO of Westamerica Bancorporation only received US$641k in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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.

Should You Add Westamerica Bancorporation To Your Watchlist?

As I already mentioned, Westamerica Bancorporation is a growing business, which is what I like to see. The fact that EPS is growing is a genuine positive for Westamerica Bancorporation, 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. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Westamerica Bancorporation by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

You can invest in any company you want. But if you prefer to focus on stocks that have demonstrated insider buying, here is a list of companies with insider buying in the last three months.

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.