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Does West Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WTBA) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

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It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. 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 West Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WTBA), 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. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

Check out our latest analysis for West Bancorporation

How Fast Is West Bancorporation 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). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, West Bancorporation's EPS has grown 21% each year, compound, over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

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). I note that West Bancorporation'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 West Bancorporation's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 27% to US$100m. That's a real positive.

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

While profitability drives the upside, prudent investors always check the balance sheet, too.

Are West Bancorporation 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 West Bancorporation shares worth a considerable sum. To be specific, they have US$21m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 3.9% 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? A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. 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$1.7m.

The West Bancorporation CEO received US$968k 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. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Does West Bancorporation Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

For growth investors like me, West Bancorporation's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If you need more convincing beyond that EPS growth rate, don't forget about the reasonable remuneration and the high insider ownership. Each to their own, but I think all this makes West Bancorporation look rather interesting indeed. Before you take the next step you should know about the 1 warning sign for West Bancorporation that we have uncovered.

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.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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