As a small-cap bank stock with a market capitalisation of US$102m, Bank of South Carolina Corporation’s (NASDAQ:BKSC) risk and profitability are largely determined by the underlying economic growth of the US regions in which it operates. 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 GFC, a set of reforms called Basel III was imposed in order to strengthen regulation, supervision and risk management 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. 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 Bank of South Carolina 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 BKSC’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, Bank of South Carolina’s leverage ratio of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 9.89x, 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.
How Should We Measure BKSC’s 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. Usually, they should not be higher than 70% of total assets, which is the case for Bank of South Carolina’s ratio at 63%. This is a reasonable ratio and suggests that slightly over half of the bank’s total assets are tied up in the form of illiquid loans, striking an appropriate balance between liquidity and interest income.
Does BKSC 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, 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. Since Bank of South Carolina’s loan to deposit ratio of 71% is within the sensible margin, below than the appropriate maximum of 90%, this level positions the bank cautiously in terms of liquidity as it has not disproportionately lent out its deposits and has retained an apt level of deposits.
Bank of South Carolina passes all of our liquidity and leverage checks which shows it is prudent in managing those factors. This gives us confidence in the operational side of the business, an important aspect to consider before investing in the stock. The bank’s favourable liquidity and leverage position exposes it to less risk when it comes to repaying financial obligations, in particular, in the case of an adverse macro event. We’ve only touched on operational risks for BKSC in this article. But as a stock investment, there are other fundamentals you need to understand. There are three relevant aspects you should further examine:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for BKSC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for BKSC’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is BKSC 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 BKSC 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.