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Underlying strength and earnings growth prospects make American National Bankshares Inc. (AMNB - Free Report) a solid bet now. The company’s Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current-year earnings has been revised marginally upward over the last 60 days, indicating analysts’ optimism about its earnings growth potential. As a result, the stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

The stock has gained 3.5% so far this year compared with 6.7% decline for the industry it belongs to.

Given the positive estimate revisions and a solid Zacks Rank, we expect a decent upside for the stock in the near term.



Here are the other aspects that make the stock an attractive investment option:

Earnings per Share (EPS) Growth: American National has witnessed EPS growth of nearly 13.8% in the last three-five years, higher than the industry’s growth of 13.5%. This earnings momentum is likely to continue in the near term, as reflected by the company’s projected EPS growth of 9% and 16.5% for 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Also, the company has a decent earnings surprise history, having delivered an average beat of 6.4% in the trailing four quarters.

Strong Leverage: American National’s debt/equity ratio is 0.18 against the industry average of 0.31, indicating a relatively lower debt burden. It also indicates the company’s financial stability even in adverse economic conditions.

Superior Return on Equity (ROE): American National has an ROE of 7.89%, slightly better than the industry average of 7.57%. This shows that the company reinvests its cash more efficiently.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other top-ranked stocks in the same space are Farmers Capital Bank Corporation (FFKT - Free Report) , Popular, Inc. (BPOP - Free Report) and Carolina Financial Corporation (CARO - Free Report) .

Farmers Capital has witnessed an upward earnings estimate revision of 5.1% for the current year, over the last 60 days. Its share price has increased 28.3% in the last 12 months. The company currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Popular’s earnings estimates for the current year have been revised 3.5% upward over the past 60 days. Its shares have gained 4.4% in the last 12 months. It also carries a Zacks Rank #1.

Carolina Financial carries a Zacks Rank #2. The company witnessed an upward earnings estimate revision of 8.9% for the current year, over the last 60 days. Its share price has increased 55.5% in a year’s time.

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