As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$697.7m, the risk and profitability of Peoples Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:PEBO) are largely tied to the underlying economic growth of the region it operates in US. Since banks make money by reinvesting its customers’ deposits in the form of loans, strong economic growth will drive the level of savings deposits and demand for loans, directly impacting the cash flows of those banks. 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 Peoples Bancorp 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. High liquidity and low leverage could position Peoples Bancorp 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.
Why Does PEBO’s Leverage Matter?
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, Peoples Bancorp’s leverage ratio of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 7.95x, is considered to be very cautious and prudent. 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. 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.
How Should We Measure PEBO’s Liquidity?
As abovementioned, loans are quite illiquid so it is important to understand how much of these loans make up the bank’s total assets. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, which is consistent with Peoples Bancorp’s state given its ratio of 67.1%. This means slightly over half of the bank’s total assets are tied up in the form of illiquid loans, leading to a sensible balance between interest income and liquidity.
Does PEBO Have Liquidity Mismatch?
Banks operate by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge a higher interest rate. Loans are generally fixed term which means they cannot be readily realized, however, customer deposits are liabilities which must be repaid on-demand and in short notice. 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%, Peoples Bancorp’s ratio of over 90.4% is higher which places the bank in a relatively dangerous territory to go into negative discrepancy in liquidity. Essentially, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out more than $0.9 which is risky.
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. We’ve only touched on operational risks for PEBO in this article. But as a stock investment, there are other fundamentals you need to understand. There are three important aspects you should further research:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for PEBO’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for PEBO’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is PEBO 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 PEBO 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 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.
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