Coastway Bancorp (NASDAQ: CWAY) is the holding company for Coastway Community Bank, a Rhode Island based mutual savings bank that completed its stock conversion on January 14, 2014. The investment thesis is simple and straight forward for Coastway Bancorp (its the same as most any mutual-to-stock conversion): (1) As a mutual conversion, investors essentially get the built up capital "for free" creating an overcapitalized cheap bank, (2) It's balance sheet is fairly clean with limited legacy bad loans, (3) It's trading at an attractive valuation of just under 75% of proforma TBV.
Coastway is located and does primarily all of its business through nine banking offices located in Rhode Island, not the most attractive economic environment as its been plagued with higher than average unemployment rates for years. Coastway was a credit union for much of its life before converting to a mutual savings bank in 2009, thus its only recently begun making strides to generate profits. But this is generally an easier problem to fix (compared to say a lot of problem loans) by converting to a stock corporation as management is now incentivized to start generating a profit and can do so by increasing assets and taking a detailed look at expenses.
Coastway's balance sheet is pretty clean with $380 million in assets, only a little more than 2% of which are non-performing. With fresh conversion capital at its disposal it should be able to grow the balance sheet to get a closer to point where the regulatory costs become more bearable and spread across a wider base. While many pundits point to this magic number being $1 billion, I think there's still space below that for a bank to succeed and many of the regulatory burdens may end up being less than what the industry originally feared.
One thing to like about Coastway is their loan portfolio is more commercial bank like than many savings institutions, less emphasis on one-to-four family residential mortgages and more emphasis on commercial loans. While commercial loans are riskier, it's hard to make money being a traditional thrift in today's low interest rate environment. Expect this trend towards commercial lending to continue at Coastway as they deploy their fresh capital.
Coastway owns a majority of their bank branches and office space, the book value of which is $24.4 million, a potential hidden asset if these buildings are worth more than their cost minus depreciation (although I haven't looked, would be a minor positive). In fact, they're moving from their current headquarters in Cranston, RI and moving to a new building that's under construction in Warwick, RI. While I typically wouldn't like the sound of a new headquarters being build post IPO, in this instance I hope it makes sense, and signals plans for further growth which is key in a mutual conversion. Coastway has also recently opened up two new branches, combine this with the new headquarters and you also have a lot of one time costs that are masking profitability.
Interest Rate Risk
Although interest rates have recently pulled back, the longer term trend should be higher as the Federal Reserve reduces its stimulus and forces the markets to fend for themselves. Higher interest rates in general will be a positive for banks as their assets will likely reprice quicker than their deposits/liabilities which are generally sticky (banks will try for as long as possible to keep their deposit rates near zero) and their net interest margins should improve.
Coastway is positively leveraged towards higher interest rates, above are the results of a model included in the prospectus that attempts to capture the change in equity value for a given change in interest rates.
Coastway, like other mutual conversions, as a limited history with profitability. The efficiency ratio is way too high and the ROA and ROE are both extremely low.
As of today (2/7/14), Coastway has a market capitalization of $50.3 million, versus a book value of $68.6 million after the conversion, or a P/B of 0.73x. As Coastway expands and improves profitability, the discount to book should close producing an attractive return. While the mutual conversion prevents Coastway from being acquired for three years, Coastway will have the opportunity to close the discount to book themselves as they're retaining roughly 40% of the net proceeds from the conversion at the holding company, likely to either fund a dividend or repurchase shares.
Overall, there's nothing to jump up and down about over Coastway, it's a pretty typical small community bank that's trading at attractive valuation due to the recent conversion. I have added Coastway Bancorp to my slowly developing mutual bank conversion bucket (along with just Sunnyside Bancorp at the moment), as it's a fairly proven lower risk investment theme.
Disclosure: I own shares of CWAY