Last week, the Board of Directors of
) approved a new share repurchase program. Under this
authorization, the company will be repurchasing up to 2 million
common shares through September 1, 2013.
The shares under the authorization represent about 7% of
Westamerica's outstanding common stock as of June 30, 2012.
Additionally, the buybacks will be held periodically, depending on
the market conditions through the open market or privately-held
Over the last two years, Westamerica has twice announced its
decision to buyback shares. In August 2010, the management had
authorized repurchase of up to 2 million shares by September 1,
2011. Likewise, last year, the company declared a share buyback
plan that allows it to repurchase up to 2 million shares through
September 1, 2012.
During 2011 Westamerica repurchased 1.32 million shares for an
aggregate price of $60.6 million. Further, in the first half
of 2012, the company bought back 566,000 shares worth about $26.1
Concurrent with the announcement of the share buyback plan,
Westamerica declared a quarterly cash dividend of 37 cents per
share. The dividend is payable on August 17 to shareholders of
record at the close of business on August 6.
Since 2010, the company has raised its quarterly cash dividends
twice. The latest announcement was made in October 2011, when the
company hiked its quarterly dividend by 2.8%.
Westamerica has a healthy capital and cash position, which allows
it to maintain a stable capital deployment strategy. We believe
that the company would continue with its initiatives to boost
shareholders' value in the subsequent years as well.
Similar to Westamerica, one of its peers -
Columbia Banking System Inc.
) continues to enhance shareholders' value through dividend hikes.
Recently, Columbia increased its quarterly cash dividend by 13% to
9 cents per share.
Earlier in October 2011, it had raised its quarterly dividend by
33% from 6 cents. Further, the company recently announced a special
dividend of 21 cents, pertaining to its strategy of announcing
special dividends at regular intervals.
COLUMBIA BK SYS (COLB): Free Stock Analysis
WESTAMER BANCP (WABC): Free Stock Analysis
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Westamerica currently retains a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates
into a short-term Sell rating. Also, considering the fundamentals,
we maintain a long-term Underperform rating on the stock.