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What You Should Know About Associated Banc-Corp’s (NYSE:ASB) Liquidity

Simply Wall St

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Associated Banc-Corp’s (NYSE:ASB) 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$3.4b. 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. Basel III target banking regulations to improve the sector’s ability to absorb shocks resulting from economic stress which may expose financial institutions like Associated Banc-Corp 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. Sufficient liquidity and low levels of leverage could place the bank in a safe place in case of unexpected macro headwinds. Today we will be measuring Associated Banc-Corp’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.

View our latest analysis for Associated Banc-Corp

NYSE:ASB Historical Debt, March 27th 2019

Is ASB'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, Associated Banc-Corp’s leverage ratio of 8.9x is very safe and substantially below the maximum limit 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 ASB's Level of Liquidity?

Handing Money Transparent

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, consistent with Associated Banc-Corp’s case with a ratio of 67%. At this level of loan, the bank has preserved a sensible level between maintaining liquidity and generating interest income from the loan.

Does ASB Have Liquidity Mismatch?

A way banks make money is by lending out its deposits as loans. These loans may be fixed term and often cannot be readily realized, conversely, on the liability side, customer deposits must be paid in very short notice and on-demand. 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%, Associated Banc-Corp’s ratio of over 91% is higher which puts the bank in a risky position as it borders 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.

Next Steps:

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. Keep in mind that a stock investment requires research on more than just its operational side. Below, I've compiled three essential aspects you should further examine:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for ASB’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for ASB’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is ASB 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 ASB is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.