Live Oak Bancshares Inc’s (NASDAQ:LOB) profitability and risk are largely affected by the underlying economic growth for the region it operates in US given it is a small-cap stock with a market capitalisation of US$1.17B. Since a bank profits from reinvesting its clients’ deposits in the form of loans, negative economic growth may lower deposit levels and demand for loan, adversely impacting its cash flow. After the Financial Crisis in 2008, a set of reforms called Basel III was created with the purpose of strengthening regulation, risk management and supervision in the banking sector. The Basel III reforms are aimed at banking regulations to improve financial institutions’ ability to absorb shocks caused by economic stress which could expose banks like Live Oak Bancshares 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. High liquidity and low leverage could position Live Oak Bancshares favourably at the face of macro headwinds. A way to measure this risk is to look at three leverage and liquidity metrics which I will take you through today. Check out our latest analysis for Live Oak Bancshares
Is LOB’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, Live Oak Bancshares’s leverage ratio of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 8x, is considered to be very cautious and prudent. 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 increase its debt levels to firm up its capital cushion, there is plenty of headroom to do so without deteriorating its financial position.
What Is LOB’s Level of 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 Live Oak Bancshares, with a ratio well-below the maximum level at 40.86%. This ratio suggests that less than half of the bank’s total assets are made up of loans, but the bank’s strong liquidity management may be at the price of generating higher interest income.
What is LOB’s Liquidity Discrepancy?
LOB profits 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, yet customer deposits on the liability side must be paid on-demand and in short notice. The discrepancy between loan assets and deposit liabilities threatens the bank’s financial position. If an adverse event occurs, it may not be well-placed to repay its depositors immediately. Since Live Oak Bancshares’s loan to deposit ratio of 47.56%is well-below than the appropriate maximum of 90%, this means the bank is lending out less than its total level of deposits and places the bank in a relatively safe liquidity position given it has not excessively lent out its deposits and has maintained a suitable level for compliance. There is opportunity for the bank to increase its interest income by lending out more loans.
Live Oak Bancshares meets all of our liquidity and leverage criteria, exhibiting operational prudency. The operational risk side of a bank is an important fundamental often overlooked by investors. High liquidity and low leverage places the bank in an ideal position to repay financial liabilities in case of adverse headwinds. Today, we’ve only explored one aspect of Live Oak Bancshares. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. I’ve put together three relevant aspects you should further research:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for LOB’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for LOB’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is LOB 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 LOB 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.