As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$72m, the risk and profitability of United Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:UBOH) 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 banking regulations and intends to enhance financial institutions’ ability to absorb shocks resulting from economic stress which could expose banks like United Bancshares 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. Strong management of leverage and liquidity could place the bank in a protected position at the face of macro headwinds. We can gauge United Bancshares’s risk-taking behaviour by analysing three metrics for leverage and liquidity which I will take you through now.
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Is UBOH’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, United Bancshares’s leverage level of 10.59x 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.
What Is UBOH’s Level of Liquidity?
As abovementioned, loans are quite illiquid so it is important to understand how much of these loans make up the bank’s total assets. Usually, they should not be higher than 70% of total assets, which is consistent with United Bancshares’s state given its ratio of 67%. At this level of loan, the bank has preserved a sensible level between maintaining liquidity and generating interest income from the loan.
Does UBOH Have Liquidity Mismatch?
UBOH profits by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge an interest on the principle. 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 United Bancshares’s loan to deposit ratio of 83% 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.
United Bancshares 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. Its high liquidity and low leverage levels mean the bank 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 United Bancshares. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. There are three important factors you should look at:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for UBOH’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for UBOH’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is UBOH 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 UBOH is currently mispriced by the market.
- 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 email@example.com.