What Makes Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) A Hard Investment?

As a large-cap stock with market capitalization of UK£28b, Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) is classified as a major bank. As these large financial institutions revert back to health after the Global Financial Crisis, we are seeing an increase in market confidence, and understanding of, these “too-big-to-fail” banking stocks. The 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 banks to vulnerabilities. As a large bank in GBP, BARC is exposed to strict regulation which has focused investor attention on the type and level of risks it is subjected to, and higher scrutiny on its risk-taking behaviour. We should we cautious when it comes to investing in financial stocks due to the various risks large banks tend to face. Today we will analyse some bank-specific metrics and take a closer look at leverage and liquidity.

Check out our latest analysis for Barclays

LSE:BARC Historical Debt, March 2nd 2019
LSE:BARC Historical Debt, March 2nd 2019

Is BARC’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, Barclays’s leverage level of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 17.77x, 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. Should the bank need to increase its debt levels to meet capital requirements, it will have abundant headroom to do so.

How Should We Measure BARC’s Liquidity?

Handing Money Transparent As I eluded to above, loans are relatively illiquid. It’s helpful to understand how much of this illiquid asset makes up the bank’s total asset. Generally, they should make up less than 70% of total assets, however, this should not be a concern for Barclays given its substantially lower ratio of below 30%. At this level of loan, the bank has preserved a significantly high level of liquidity but possibly at the cost of producing interest income from illiquid loan.

Does BARC Have Liquidity Mismatch?

BARC 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, 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 Barclays’s loan to deposit ratio of 75% 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:

Barclays passes all of our liquidity and leverage checks which shows it is prudent in managing those factors. This gives us confidence in the operational side of the business, an important aspect to consider before investing in the stock. High liquidity and low leverage places the bank in an ideal position to repay financial liabilities in case of adverse headwinds. Today, we’ve only explored one aspect of Barclays. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. There are three pertinent aspects you should further research:

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

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.