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Why These Fundamentals Make Investar Holding Corporation’s (NASDAQ:ISTR) More Attractive

Jacob Boyd

Investar Holding Corporation’s (NASDAQ:ISTR) 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$260.3m. A bank’s cash flow is directly impacted by economic growth as it is the main driver of deposit levels and demand for loans which it profits from. Post-GFC recovery brought about a new set of reforms, Basel III, which was created to improve regulation, supervision and risk management in the financial services industry. Basel III target banking regulations to improve the sector’s ability to absorb shocks resulting from economic stress which may expose financial institutions like Investar Holding 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 Investar Holding’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.

See our latest analysis for Investar Holding

NasdaqGM:ISTR Historical Debt September 11th 18

Is ISTR’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. Financial institutions are required to have a certain level of buffer to meet capital adequacy levels. Investar Holding’s leverage level of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 9.58x, is considered to be very cautious and prudent. With assets 9.58 times equity, the banks has maintained a prudent level of its own fund relative to borrowed fund which places it in a strong position to pay back its debt in times of adverse events. If the bank needs to increase its debt levels to firm up its capital cushion, there is plenty of headroom to do so without deteriorating its financial position.

What Is ISTR’s Level of Liquidity?

Handing Money Transparent

Since loans are relatively illiquid, we should know how much of Investar Holding’s total assets are comprised of these loans. Normally, they should not exceed 70% of total assets, however its current level of 76.1% means the bank has lent out 6.11% 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.

What is ISTR’s Liquidity Discrepancy?

A way banks make money is by lending out its deposits as loans. These loans tend to be fixed term which means they 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. Relative to the prudent industry loan to deposit level of 90%, Investar Holding’s ratio of over 105% is higher, which places the bank in a relatively dangerous position given the negative liquidity discrepancy. Essentially, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out more than $1 which is unsustainable.

Next Steps:

Today, we’ve only explored one aspect of Investar Holding. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. Below, I’ve compiled three key aspects you should further examine:

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