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As a small-cap bank stock with a market capitalisation of US$715m, Banc of California, Inc.’s (NYSE:BANC) 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 Banc of California to vulnerabilities. Since its financial standing can unexpectedly decline in the case of an adverse macro event such as political instability, it is important to understand how prudent the bank is at managing its risk levels. 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 Banc of California’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.
Is BANC's Leverage Level Appropriate?
Banks with low leverage are better positioned to weather adverse headwinds as they have less debt to pay off. A bank’s leverage may be thought of as the level of assets it owns compared to its own shareholders’ equity. While financial companies will always have some leverage for a sufficient capital buffer, Banc of California’s leverage ratio of 11.24x is significantly below the appropriate ceiling of 20x. This means the bank exhibits very strong leverage management and is well-positioned to repay its debtors in the case of any adverse events since it has an appropriately high level of equity relative to the debt it has taken on to remain in business. Should the bank need to increase its debt levels to meet capital requirements, it will have abundant headroom to do so.
What Is BANC's Level of Liquidity?
Since loans are relatively illiquid, we should know how much of Banc of California’s total assets are comprised of these loans. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, but its current level of 72% means the bank has lent out 1.86% above the sensible upper limit. This indicates that revenue is dependent on this particular asset but also the bank is more exposed to default compared to banks with less loans.
Does BANC Have Liquidity Mismatch?
Banks profit by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge an interest on the principle. 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. This mismatch between illiquid loans and liquid deposits poses a risk for the bank if unusual events occur and requires it to immediately repay its depositors. Compared to the appropriate industry loan to deposit level of 90%, Banc of California’s ratio of over 96% is higher which places the bank in a relatively dangerous territory to go into negative discrepancy in liquidity. Basically, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out over $0.9 which is imprudent.
Keep in mind that a stock investment requires research on more than just its operational side. There are three pertinent aspects you should further examine:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for BANC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for BANC’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is BANC 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 BANC 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.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.