Anyone researching Elementis plc (LON:ELM) might want to consider the historical volatility of the share price. Modern finance theory considers volatility to be a measure of risk, and there are two main types of price volatility. The first type is company specific volatility. Investors use diversification across uncorrelated stocks to reduce this kind of price volatility across the portfolio. The second sort is caused by the natural volatility of markets, overall. For example, certain macroeconomic events will impact (virtually) all stocks on the market.
Some stocks see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated price movements. Beta can be a useful tool to understand how much a stock is influenced by market risk (volatility). However, Warren Buffett said 'volatility is far from synonymous with risk' in his 2014 letter to investors. So, while useful, beta is not the only metric to consider. To use beta as an investor, you must first understand that the overall market has a beta of one. A stock with a beta below one is either less volatile than the market, or more volatile but not corellated with the overall market. In comparison a stock with a beta of over one tends to be move in a similar direction to the market in the long term, but with greater changes in price.
What does ELM's beta value mean to investors?
Zooming in on Elementis, we see it has a five year beta of 0.81. This is below 1, so historically its share price has been rather independent from the market. This means that -- if history is a guide -- buying the stock would reduce the impact of overall market volatility in many portfolios (depending on the beta of the portfolio, of course). Many would argue that beta is useful in position sizing, but fundamental metrics such as revenue and earnings are more important overall. You can see Elementis's revenue and earnings in the image below.
Could ELM's size cause it to be more volatile?
Elementis is a small cap stock with a market capitalisation of UK£1.0b. Most companies this size are actively traded. Small companies often have a high beta value, but they can be heavily influenced by company-specific events. This might explain why this stock has a low beta.
What this means for you:
The Elementis doesn't usually show much sensitivity to the broader market. This could be for a variety of reasons. Typically, smaller companies have a low beta if their share price tends to move a lot due to company specific developments. Alternatively, an strong dividend payer might move less than the market because investors are valuing it for its income stream. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Elementis’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to continue your research by taking a look at the following:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for ELM’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for ELM’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has ELM been consistently performing well irrespective of the ups and downs in the market? Go into more detail in the past performance analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of ELM's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how ELM measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.