Financial Survey: ServisFirst Bancshares (NASDAQ:SFBS) versus Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB)

ServisFirst Bancshares (NASDAQ:SFBS) and Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) are both finance companies, but which is the superior stock? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their profitability, valuation, risk, dividends, institutional ownership, analyst recommendations and earnings.

Dividends

ServisFirst Bancshares pays an annual dividend of $0.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.8%. Ameris Bancorp pays an annual dividend of $0.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.5%. ServisFirst Bancshares pays out 23.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Ameris Bancorp pays out 17.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. ServisFirst Bancshares has raised its dividend for 4 consecutive years. ServisFirst Bancshares is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares ServisFirst Bancshares and Ameris Bancorp’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
ServisFirst Bancshares $348.16 million 5.09 $136.94 million $2.53 13.09
Ameris Bancorp $531.74 million 5.22 $121.03 million $3.38 11.80

ServisFirst Bancshares has higher earnings, but lower revenue than Ameris Bancorp. Ameris Bancorp is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than ServisFirst Bancshares, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Profitability

This table compares ServisFirst Bancshares and Ameris Bancorp’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
ServisFirst Bancshares 36.49% 19.37% 1.74%
Ameris Bancorp 26.23% 12.01% 1.53%

Institutional and Insider Ownership

47.3% of ServisFirst Bancshares shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 63.0% of Ameris Bancorp shares are owned by institutional investors. 13.6% of ServisFirst Bancshares shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 2.0% of Ameris Bancorp shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Risk & Volatility

ServisFirst Bancshares has a beta of 1.32, suggesting that its share price is 32% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Ameris Bancorp has a beta of 1.51, suggesting that its share price is 51% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent ratings and price targets for ServisFirst Bancshares and Ameris Bancorp, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
ServisFirst Bancshares 0 1 1 0 2.50
Ameris Bancorp 0 0 6 0 3.00

ServisFirst Bancshares presently has a consensus target price of $35.00, suggesting a potential upside of 5.64%. Ameris Bancorp has a consensus target price of $47.00, suggesting a potential upside of 17.82%. Given Ameris Bancorp’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Ameris Bancorp is more favorable than ServisFirst Bancshares.

Summary

Ameris Bancorp beats ServisFirst Bancshares on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About ServisFirst Bancshares

ServisFirst Bancshares, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for ServisFirst Bank that provides banking services to individual and corporate customers in the United States. It offers demand, time, savings, and other deposits; checking, money market, and IRA accounts; and certificates of deposit. The company also provides commercial lending products, such as seasonal loans, bridge loans, and term loans for working capital, expansion of the business, or acquisition of property, plant, and equipment, as well as commercial lines of credit; commercial real estate loans, construction and development loans, and residential real estate loans; and consumer loans, such as home equity loans, vehicle financing, loans secured by deposits, and secured and unsecured personal loans. In addition, it offers other banking products and services comprising telephone and mobile banking, direct deposit, Internet banking, traveler's checks, safe deposit boxes, attorney trust accounts, automatic account transfers, automated teller machines, and debit card systems, as well as Visa credit cards; treasury and cash management services; wire transfer, night depository, banking-by-mail, and remote capture services; and correspondent banking services to other financial institutions. Further, the company, through its subsidiary, SF Intermediate Holding Company, Inc., operates as a real estate investment trust for the United States income tax purposes; and holds and manages participations in residential mortgages and commercial real estate loans originated by ServisFirst Bank in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. It operates 20 full-service banking offices located in Jefferson, Shelby, Madison, Montgomery, Mobile, Baldwin, and Houston Counties in Alabama; Escambia and Hillsborough Counties in Florida; Cobb and Douglas Counties in Georgia; Charleston County in South Carolina; and Davidson County in Tennessee. The company was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

About Ameris Bancorp

Ameris Bancorp operates as the bank holding company for Ameris Bank that provides banking services to retail and commercial customers primarily in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina. The company operates through five segments: Banking Division, Retail Mortgage Division, Warehouse Lending Division, SBA Division, and Premium Finance Division. It offers commercial and retail checking, regular interest-bearing savings, money market, individual retirement, and certificates of deposit accounts. The company also provides commercial real estate, residential real estate mortgage, agricultural, and commercial and industrial loans; consumer loans, including motor vehicle, home improvement, and home equity loans, as well as loans secured by savings accounts and small unsecured personal credit lines; and municipal and commercial insurance premium finance loans. It operates 125 domestic banking offices and 16 loan production offices. Ameris Bancorp was founded in 1971 and is headquartered in Moultrie, Georgia.

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