Salisbury Bancorp Inc’s (NASDAQ:SAL) 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$109m. 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. These reforms target bank level regulation and aims to improve the banking sector’s ability to absorb shocks arising from economic stress which could expose financial institutions 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 Salisbury 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 SAL’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. Though banks are required to have a certain level of buffer to meet its capital requirements, Salisbury Bancorp’s leverage level of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 10.9x, 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 firm up its capital cushion, it has ample headroom to increase its debt level without deteriorating its financial position.
What Is SAL’s Level of Liquidity?
Since loans are relatively illiquid, we should know how much of Salisbury Bancorp’s total assets are comprised of these loans. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, but its current level of 82% means the bank has obviously lent out 11.79% 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.
What is SAL’s Liquidity Discrepancy?
Banks operate by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge a higher interest rate. These loans may be fixed term and often cannot be readily realized, however, customer deposits are liabilities which must be repaid 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. Compared to the appropriate industry loan to deposit level of 90%, Salisbury Bancorp’s ratio of over 100% is higher which positions the bank in a risky spot given the potential to cross into negative liquidity disparity between loan and deposit levels. Essentially, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out more than $0.9 which is risky.
Keep in mind that a stock investment requires research on more than just its operational side. I’ve put together three pertinent factors you should further research:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for SAL’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SAL’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is SAL 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 SAL 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.
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 email@example.com.