Westamerica Bancorp

(WABC) - Get Report

said Friday that it will buy back up to 2 million shares of its common stock over the next year.

The repurchase plan represents about 6.4% of the company's common stock. The repurchases would be made in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions from time to time.

"This stock repurchase program is being adopted to continue to provide management with the flexibility to optimize the company's use of equity capital and enhance shareholder value. Westamerica's strong capital position, high level of profitability, and low-risk balance sheet supported the initiation of this new program," the San Rafael, Calif.-based company said.

The shares of the company were up 42 cents Friday at $50.12.

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