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Understated Factors To Consider Before Investing In Opus Bank (NASDAQ:OPB)

Veer Mallick

As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$780m, the risk and profitability of Opus Bank (NASDAQ:OPB) 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 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. 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. 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 Opus Bank’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.

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NasdaqGS:OPB Historical Debt January 23rd 19

Is OPB’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. Though banks are required to have a certain level of buffer to meet its capital requirements, Opus Bank’s leverage level of 7.13x is very safe and substantially below the maximum limit 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.

How Should We Measure OPB’s Liquidity?

Handing Money Transparent

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 Opus Bank’s ratio at 69%. At this level of loan, the bank has preserved a sensible level between maintaining liquidity and generating interest income from the loan.

What is OPB’s Liquidity Discrepancy?

OPB profits by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge an interest on the principle. Loans are generally fixed term which means they cannot be readily realized, however, customer deposits are liabilities which must be repaid on-demand and in short notice. The disparity between the immediacy of deposits compared to the illiquid nature of loans puts pressure on the bank’s financial position if an adverse event requires the bank to repay its depositors. Compared to the appropriate industry loan to deposit level of 90%, Opus Bank’s ratio of over 83% is sensibly lower and within the safe margin, which places the bank in a relatively safe liquidity position given it has not excessively lent out its deposits and has maintained a suitable level for compliance.

Next Steps:

Opus Bank meets all of our liquidity and leverage criteria, exhibiting operational prudency. The operational risk side of a bank is an important fundamental often overlooked by investors. 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. Today, we’ve only explored one aspect of Opus Bank. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. There are three relevant factors you should further research:

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