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Understated Factors To Consider Before Investing In Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:SGB)

Cameron Brookes

As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$55m, the risk and profitability of Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:SGB) 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 GFC, a set of reforms called Basel III was imposed in order to strengthen regulation, supervision and risk management 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 Southwest Georgia 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. 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 Southwest Georgia Financial’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.

See our latest analysis for Southwest Georgia Financial

AMEX:SGB Historical Debt December 21st 18

Why Does SGB’s Leverage Matter?

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, Southwest Georgia Financial’s leverage level of 12.14x 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. Should the bank need to increase its debt levels to meet capital requirements, it will have abundant headroom to do so.

What Is SGB’s Level of Liquidity?

Handing Money Transparent

Due to its illiquid nature, loans are an important asset class we should learn more about. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, but its current level of 71% means the bank has lent out 0.54% above the sensible upper limit. 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.

What is SGB’s Liquidity Discrepancy?

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, yet customer deposits on the liability side must be paid on-demand and in short notice. 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. Since Southwest Georgia Financial’s loan to deposit ratio of 85% 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:

The bank’s liquidity and leverage ratios suggest its sensible operational risk management. 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. We’ve only touched on operational risks for SGB in this article. But as a stock investment, there are other fundamentals you need to understand. There are three important aspects you should further examine:

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