If you are looking to invest in Ames National Corporation’s (NASDAQ:ATLO), or currently own the stock, then you need to understand its beta in order to understand how it can affect the risk of your portfolio. ATLO is exposed to market-wide risk, which arises from investing in the stock market. This risk reflects changes in economic and political factors that affects all stocks, and is measured by its beta. Not every stock is exposed to the same level of market risk, and the market as a whole represents a beta of one. A stock with a beta greater than one is considered more sensitive to market-wide shocks compared to a stock that trades below the value of one.
What does ATLO's beta value mean?
Ames National's beta of 0.69 indicates that the stock value will be less variable compared to the whole stock market. The stock will exhibit muted movements in both the downside and upside, in response to changing economic conditions, whereas the general market may move by a lot more. Based on this beta value, ATLO appears to be a stock that an investor with a high-beta portfolio would look for to reduce risk exposure to the market.
Could ATLO's size and industry cause it to be more volatile?
A market capitalisation of USD $290.97M puts ATLO in the category of small-cap stocks, which tends to possess higher beta than larger companies. Furthermore, the company operates in the banks industry, which has been found to have high sensitivity to market-wide shocks. Therefore, investors may expect high beta associated with small companies, as well as those operating in the banks industry, relative to those more well-established firms in a more defensive industry. This is an interesting conclusion, since both ATLO’s size and industry indicates the stock should have a higher beta than it currently has. There may be a more fundamental driver which can explain this inconsistency, which we will examine below.
Is ATLO's cost structure indicative of a high beta?
During times of economic downturn, low demand may cause companies to readjust production of their goods and services. It is more difficult for companies to lower their cost, if the majority of these costs are generated by fixed assets. Therefore, this is a type of risk which is associated with higher beta. I test ATLO’s ratio of fixed assets to total assets in order to determine how high the risk is associated with this type of constraint. Considering fixed assets account for less than a third of the company's overall assets, ATLO seems to have a smaller dependency on fixed costs to generate revenue. As a result, the company may be less volatile relative to broad market movements, compared to a company of similar size but higher proportion of fixed assets. Similarly, ATLO’s beta value conveys the same message.
What this means for you:
Are you a shareholder? You could benefit from lower risk during times of economic decline by holding onto ATLO. Its low fixed cost also means that, in terms of operating leverage, it is relatively flexible during times of economic downturns. Consider the stock in terms of your other portfolio holdings, and whether it is worth investing more into ATLO.
Are you a potential investor? You should consider the stock in terms of your portfolio. It could be a valuable addition in times of an economic decline, due to its low fixed cost and low beta. However, I recommend you to also look at its fundamental factors as well, such as its current valuation and financial health to assess its investment thesis in further detail.
Beta is one aspect of your portfolio construction to consider when holding or entering into a stock. But it is certainly not the only factor. Take a look at our most recent infographic report on Ames National for a more in-depth analysis of the stock to help you make a well-informed investment decision. But if you are not interested in Ames National anymore, you can use our free platform to see my list of over 50 other stocks with a high growth potential.
To help readers see pass 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.