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Shares of Westamerica Bancorp. (WABC - Analyst Report) gained 0.5% since the company announced a dividend hike on Oct 24. The company declared a 2.7% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 38 cents per share. It will be paid on Nov 15 to shareholders of record as of Nov 4.

Prior to this, Westamerica Bancorp raised its quarterly cash dividend twice since the financial crisis. In Jan 2010, the dividend was raised by 2.9% to 36 cents per share, while in Nov 2012 it was further hiked by 2.8% to 37 cents.

Apart from regular dividend payments, Westamerica Bancorp has a share repurchase policy in place. In Jul 2013, the company approved a new share repurchase authorization worth up to $2.0 million, representing 7% of the company’s common stock outstanding as of Jun 30, 2013.

This buyback program is scheduled to close by Sep 1, 2014. Earlier, in Aug 2010, the company’s board of directors authorized a repurchase of up to 2 million shares.

Over the nine months ended Sep 30, 2013, Westamerica Bancorp bought back 635000 shares for $2.9 million.

The company’s steady capital deployment program reflects its capital strength. As of Sep 30, 2013, total regulatory capital ratio came in at 15.99% and Tier I capital ratio as a percentage of risk-adjusted assets was 14.59%. The ratios are well above the regulatory minimum standards. Also, the company’s cash and due from banks stood at $388.6 million as of the same date.

Among other banks, International Bancshares Corp. and Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC - Analyst Report) announced a hike in cash dividend recently. International Bancshares raised its semi-annual cash dividend by 15% to 23 cents per share, while Associated Banc-Corp raised its quarterly cash dividend by 12.5% to 9 cents per share.

Westamerica Bancorp currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Glacier Bancorp Inc. (GBCI - Snapshot Report) is a better-performing banking stock in the West region with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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