As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$253m, the risk and profitability of ACNB Corporation (NASDAQ:ACNB) are largely tied to the underlying economic growth of the region it operates in US. Given that banks operate by reinvesting deposits in the form of loans, negative economic growth may lower the level of saving deposits and demand for loans, directly affecting those banks’ levels of cash flows. 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. 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 ACNB to vulnerabilities. Unpredictable macro events such as political instability could weaken its financial position which is why it is important to understand how well the bank manages its risk levels. Strong management of leverage and liquidity could place the bank in a protected position at the face of macro headwinds. We can gauge ACNB’s risk-taking behaviour by analysing three metrics for leverage and liquidity which I will take you through now.
Is ACNB’s Leverage Level Appropriate?
Banks with low leverage are exposed to lower risks around their ability to repay debt. A bank’s leverage can be thought of as the amount of assets it holds compared to its own shareholders’ funds. Though banks are required to have a certain level of buffer to meet its capital requirements, ACNB’s leverage level of 10.02x is significantly below the appropriate ceiling of 20x. 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 ACNB’s Level of Liquidity?
As abovementioned, loans are quite illiquid so it is important to understand how much of these loans make up ACNB’s total assets. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, but its current level of 76% means the bank has lent out 6.41% above the sensible upper limit. This indicates that revenue is dependent on this particular asset but also the bank is more exposed to defaulting relative to banks with less loans.
Does ACNB 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, 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 ACNB’s loan to deposit ratio of 93% is higher than the appropriate level of 90%, this level puts the bank in a risky position as it borders negative liquidity disparity between loan and deposit levels. 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. I’ve put together three essential factors you should look at:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for ACNB’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for ACNB’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is ACNB 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 ACNB 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.