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Understated Factors To Consider Before Investing In Norwood Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:NWFL)

Veer Mallick

As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$201m, the risk and profitability of Norwood Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:NWFL) 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. Following the Financial Crisis in 2008, a set of reforms termed Basel III was enforced to bolster risk management, regulation, and supervision in the financial services industry. 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 Norwood Financial 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. 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 Norwood Financial’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.

Check out our latest analysis for Norwood Financial

NasdaqGM:NWFL Historical Debt January 9th 19

Is NWFL’s Leverage Level Appropriate?

A low level of leverage subjects a bank to less risk and enhances its ability to pay back its debtors. Leverage can be thought of as the amount of assets a bank owns relative to its shareholders’ funds. Though banks are required to have a certain level of buffer to meet its capital requirements, Norwood Financial’s leverage level of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 9.91x, 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. Should the bank need to increase its debt levels to meet capital requirements, it will have abundant headroom to do so.

What Is NWFL’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 Norwood Financial’s total assets. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, however its current level of 70% means the bank has lent out 0.10% above the sensible threshold. This indicates that revenue is dependent on this particular asset but also the bank is more likely to be exposed to default compared to its competitors with less loans.

Does NWFL Have Liquidity Mismatch?

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. 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 Norwood Financial’s loan to deposit ratio of 86% 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.

Next Steps:

Passing two of the three checks for liquidity and leverage demonstrates a relatively sensible operational risk management by the bank. Its high liquidity and low leverage levels mean it is well-positioned to meet its financial obligations in the case of any adverse and unpredictable macro events. Today, we’ve only explored one aspect of Norwood Financial. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. There are three important factors you should further examine:

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

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com.