As a small-cap bank stock with a market capitalisation of US$2.15B, TowneBank’s (NASDAQ:TOWN) risk and profitability are largely determined by the underlying economic growth of the US regions in which it operates. A bank’s cash flow is directly impacted by economic growth as it is the main driver of deposit levels and demand for loans which it profits from. After the GFC, a set of reforms called Basel III was imposed in order to strengthen regulation, supervision and risk management in the banking sector. Basel III target banking regulations to improve the sector’s ability to absorb shocks resulting from economic stress which may expose financial institutions like TowneBank to vulnerabilities. Its financial position may weaken in an adverse macro event such as political instability which is why it is crucial to understand how well the bank manages its risks. Sufficient liquidity and low levels of leverage could place the bank in a safe place in case of unexpected macro headwinds. Today we will be measuring TowneBank’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics. View our latest analysis for TowneBank
Why Does TOWN’s Leverage Matter?
A low level of leverage subjects a bank to less risk and enhances its ability to pay back its debtors. Leverage can be thought of as the amount of assets a bank owns relative to its shareholders’ funds. While financial companies will always have some leverage for a sufficient capital buffer, TowneBank’s leverage ratio of 7x is significantly below the appropriate ceiling of 20x. This means the bank has a sensibly high level of equity compared to the level of debt it has taken on to maintain operations which places it in a strong position to pay back its debt in unforeseen circumstances. If the bank needs to firm up its capital cushion, it has ample headroom to increase its debt level without deteriorating its financial position.
How Should We Measure TOWN’s Liquidity?
As I eluded to above, loans are relatively illiquid. It’s helpful to understand how much of this illiquid asset makes up the bank’s total asset. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, which is the case for TowneBank’s ratio at 69.25%. This is a reasonable ratio and suggests that slightly over half of the bank’s total assets are tied up in the form of illiquid loans, striking an appropriate balance between liquidity and interest income.
What is TOWN’s Liquidity Discrepancy?
Banks operate by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge a higher interest rate. These loans tend to be fixed term which means they cannot be readily realized, conversely, on the liability side, customer deposits must be paid in very short notice and on-demand. The disparity between the immediacy of deposits compared to the illiquid nature of loans puts pressure on the bank’s financial position if an adverse event requires the bank to repay its depositors. Compared to the appropriate industry loan to deposit level of 90%, TowneBank’s ratio of over 91.53% is higher which puts the bank in a risky position as it borders negative liquidity disparity between loan and deposit levels. Basically, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out over $ 0.9 which is imprudent.
Passing two of the three checks for liquidity and leverage demonstrates a relatively sensible operational risk management by the bank. This means it is well-positioned to meet its financial obligations in case of any unforeseen and adverse macro events. Keep in mind that a stock investment requires research on more than just its operational side. I’ve put together three essential aspects you should look at:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for TOWN’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for TOWN’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is TOWN worth today? Has the future growth potential already been factored into the price? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether TOWN is currently mispriced by the market.
- Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.
To help readers see pass the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price sensitive company announcements.
The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned.