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As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$4.9b, the risk and profitability of First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (NASDAQ:FCNC.A) are largely tied to the underlying economic growth of the region it operates in US. Since a bank profits from reinvesting its clients’ deposits in the form of loans, negative economic growth may lower deposit levels and demand for loan, adversely impacting its cash flow. 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 First Citizens 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. 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 First Citizens BancShares’s financial risk position by looking at three leverage and liquidity metrics.
Why Does FCNC.A’s Leverage Matter?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. While financial companies will always have some leverage for a sufficient capital buffer, First Citizens BancShares’s leverage ratio of less than the suitable maximum level of 20x, at 10.15x, is considered to be very cautious and prudent. 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. Should the bank need to increase its debt levels to meet capital requirements, it will have abundant headroom to do so.
What Is FCNC.A’s Level of Liquidity?Due to its illiquid nature, loans are an important asset class we should learn more about. Generally, they should make up less than 70% of total assets, however its current level of 71% means the bank has lent out 1.45% above the sensible threshold. This level implies dependency on this particular asset class as a source of revenue which makes the bank more exposed to defaulting relative to banks with less loans.
Does FCNC.A Have Liquidity Mismatch?Banks operate by lending out its customers’ deposits as loans and charge a higher interest rate. Loans are generally 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. 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. Relative to the prudent industry loan to deposit level of 90%, First Citizens BancShares’s ratio of over 82%is appropriately lower, which places the bank in a relatively safe liquidity position given it has not excessively lent out its deposits and has maintained a suitable level for compliance.
The bank’s liquidity and leverage ratios suggest its sensible operational risk management. This means it is well-positioned to meet its financial obligations in case of any unforeseen and adverse macro events. We’ve only touched on operational risks for FCNC.A in this article. But as a stock investment, there are other fundamentals you need to understand. Below, I’ve compiled three relevant factors you should further research:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for FCNC.A’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for FCNC.A’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is FCNC.A 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 FCNC.A 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.