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As a small-cap finance stock with a market capitalisation of US$649m, the risk and profitability of Horizon Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:HBNC) are largely tied to the underlying economic growth of the region it operates in US. 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 Horizon Bancorp to vulnerabilities. Unpredictable macro events such as political instability could weaken its financial position which is why it is important to understand how well the bank manages its risk levels. High liquidity and low leverage could position Horizon Bancorp favourably at the face of macro headwinds. A way to measure this risk is to look at three leverage and liquidity metrics which I will take you through today.
Is HBNC’s Leverage Level Appropriate?Banks with low leverage are better positioned to weather adverse headwinds as they have less debt to pay off. A bank’s leverage may be thought of as the level of assets it owns compared to its own shareholders’ equity. Financial institutions are required to have a certain level of buffer to meet capital adequacy levels. Horizon Bancorp’s leverage level of 8.63x is significantly below the appropriate ceiling of 20x. With assets 8.63 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 firm up its capital cushion, it has ample headroom to increase its debt level without deteriorating its financial position.
How Should We Measure HBNC’s 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, but its current level of 71% means the bank has lent out 0.54% above the sensible upper limit. This level implies dependency on this particular asset class as a source of revenue which makes the bank more likely to be exposed to default compared to its competitors with less loans.
Does HBNC Have Liquidity Mismatch?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, 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. Compared to the appropriate industry loan to deposit level of 90%, Horizon Bancorp’s ratio of over 95% is higher which places the bank in a relatively dangerous territory to go into negative discrepancy in liquidity. Essentially, for $1 of deposits with the bank, it lends out more than $0.9 which is risky.
Today, we’ve only explored one aspect of Horizon Bancorp. However, as a potential stock investment, there are many more fundamentals you need to consider. Below, I’ve compiled three relevant aspects you should further examine:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for HBNC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for HBNC’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is HBNC 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 HBNC 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.