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On Jun 14, Zacks Investment Research upgraded West Bancorp., Inc. (WTBA - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?

West Bancorp has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong first-quarter 2014 results, including sound loan growth and healthy profitability ratios. The company posted positive earnings surprises with an average beat of 6.1% in the trailing four quarters. Further, it recorded a solid return of 39.5% in a year’s time.  

West Bancorp reported its first-quarter results on Apr 24 with earnings of 27 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Further, the reported figure exceeded the prior-year quarter figure of 23 cents by 17.4%.

Better-than-expected results were primarily driven by solid top-line growth, fall in the interest expenses and improvement in the profitability ratios. These positives were, however, partially offset by increasing non-interest expenses.

Net loans grew 9.2% and deposits increased 11.0% year over year. Net interest income rose 9.1% and non-interest income increased 14.9%. On the flip side, non-interest expenses were up 10.4% year over year.

Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 climbed 2.7% to $1.13 per share. For 2015, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 4.3% to $1.20 per share over the same time period.

Other Stocks to Consider

Apart from West Bancorp, other savings and loan institution stocks worth considering include Anchor Bancorp (ANCB), BankFinancial Corp. (BFIN - Snapshot Report) and Cape Bancorp, Inc. (CBNJ - Snapshot Report). While Anchor Bancorp sports the same Zacks Rank as that of West Bancorp, both BankFinancial Corp and Cape Bancorp carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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