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Should You Be Concerned About United Bankshares, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:UBSI) Risks?

Phillip Young

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Improving credit quality as a result of post-GFC recovery has led to a strong environment for growth in the banking sector. As a small-cap bank with a market capitalisation of US$3.6b, United Bankshares, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:UBSI) profit and value are directly affected by economic growth. This is because borrowers’ demand for, and ability to repay, their loans depend on the stability of their salaries and interest rates. Risk associated with repayment is measured by bad debt which is written off as an expense, impacting United Bankshares’s bottom line. Today I will take you through some bad debt and liability measures to analyse the level of risky assets held by the bank. Looking through a risk-lens is a useful way to assess the attractiveness of United Bankshares’s a stock investment.

Check out our latest analysis for United Bankshares

NASDAQGS:UBSI Historical Debt February 1st 19

Does United Bankshares Understand Its Own Risks?

United Bankshares’s ability to forecast and provision for its bad loans relatively accurately indicates it has a good understanding of the level of risk it is taking on. If it writes off more than 100% of the bad debt it provisioned for, then it has inadequately estimated the factors that may have added to a higher bad loan level which begs the question – does United Bankshares understand its own risk? United Bankshares’s low bad loan to bad debt ratio of 53.71% means the bank has under-provisioned by -46.29%, indicating either an unexpected one-off occurence with defaults or poor bad debt provisioning.

What Is An Appropriate Level Of Risk?

If United Bankshares does not engage in overly risky lending practices, it is considered to be in good financial shape. Typically, loans that are “bad” and cannot be recuperated by the bank should comprise less than 3% of its total loans. When these loans are not repaid, they are written off as expenses which comes out directly from United Bankshares’s profit. Since bad loans make up a relatively small 1.06% of total assets, the bank exhibits strict bad debt management and faces low risk of default.

Is There Enough Safe Form Of Borrowing?

Handing Money Transparent

United Bankshares makes money by lending out its various forms of borrowings. Deposits from customers tend to bear the lowest risk given the relatively stable amount available and interest rate. As a rule, a bank is considered less risky if it holds a higher level of deposits. Since United Bankshares’s total deposit to total liabilities is very high at 87% which is well-above the prudent level of 50% for banks, United Bankshares may be too cautious with its level of deposits and has plenty of headroom to take on risker forms of liability.

Next Steps:

The recent acquisition is expected to bring more opportunities for UBSI, which in turn should lead to stronger growth. I would stay up-to-date on how this decision will affect the future of the business in terms of earnings growth and financial health. Below, I’ve listed three fundamental areas on Simply Wall St’s dashboard for a quick visualization on current trends for UBSI. I’ve also used this site as a source of data for my article.

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for UBSI’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for UBSI’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is UBSI 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 UBSI is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. 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 past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.