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Why These Fundamentals Make People’s Utah Bancorp’s (NASDAQ:PUB) More Attractive

Joel Foster

As a small-cap bank stock with a market capitalisation of US$561m, People’s Utah Bancorp’s (NASDAQ:PUB) risk and profitability are largely determined by the underlying economic growth of the US regions in which it operates. 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. 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 People’s Utah Bancorp 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. Low levels of leverage coupled with sufficient liquidity may place People’s Utah Bancorp in a safe position in the face of adverse headwinds. We can measure this risk exposure by analysing three metrics for leverage and liquidity which I will take you through today.

See our latest analysis for People’s Utah Bancorp

NasdaqCM:PUB Historical Debt January 9th 19

Is PUB’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, People’s Utah Bancorp’s leverage level of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 7.91x, 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. 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.

How Should We Measure PUB’s Liquidity?

Handing Money Transparent

As abovementioned, loans are quite illiquid so it is important to understand how much of these loans make up People’s Utah Bancorp’s total assets. Generally, they should make up less than 70% of total assets, but its current level of 77% means the bank has lent out 6.6% above the sensible upper limit. This indicates that revenue is dependent on this particular asset but also the bank is more exposed to default compared to banks with less loans.

What is PUB’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, 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%, People’s Utah Bancorp’s ratio of over 91% is higher which places the bank in a relatively dangerous territory to go into negative discrepancy in liquidity. Basically, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out over $0.9 which is imprudent.

Next Steps:

Keep in mind that a stock investment requires research on more than just its operational side. There are three key factors you should look at:

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