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As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$183m, the risk and profitability of C&F Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:CFFI) 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. Basel III target banking regulations to improve the sector’s ability to absorb shocks resulting from economic stress which may expose financial institutions like C&F Financial 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. Strong management of leverage and liquidity could place the bank in a protected position at the face of macro headwinds. We can gauge C&F Financial’s risk-taking behaviour by analysing three metrics for leverage and liquidity which I will take you through now.
Is CFFI'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, C&F Financial’s leverage level of 10.01x is significantly below the appropriate ceiling of 20x. 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 firm up its capital cushion, it has ample headroom to increase its debt level without deteriorating its financial position.
What Is CFFI's Level of Liquidity?
Since loans are relatively illiquid, we should know how much of the bank’s total assets are comprised of these loans. Generally, they should make up less than 70% of total assets, which is the case for C&F Financial’s ratio at 68%. 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 CFFI Have Liquidity Mismatch?
Banks operate by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge a higher interest rate. These loans tend to be 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. Since C&F Financial’s loan to deposit ratio of 87% 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.
C&F Financial passes all of our liquidity and leverage checks, suggesting it is prudent in managing those factors. This gives us confidence in the risk management side of the business, an important aspect to consider before investing in the stock. High liquidity and low leverage places the bank in an ideal position to repay financial liabilities in case of adverse headwinds. Today, we've only explored one aspect of C&F Financial. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. Below, I've compiled three essential factors you should look at:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for CFFI’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CFFI’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is CFFI 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 CFFI 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.
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 email@example.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.