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Before You Buy Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX), Consider Its Volatility

Simply Wall St

If you're interested in Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX), then you might want to consider its beta (a measure of share price volatility) in order to understand how the stock could impact your portfolio. 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 type is the broader market volatility, which you cannot diversify away, since it arises from macroeconomic factors which directly affects all the stocks on the market.

Some stocks see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated price movements. Some investors use beta as a measure of how much a certain stock is impacted by market risk (volatility). While we should keep in mind that Warren Buffett has cautioned that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk', beta is still a useful factor to consider. To make good use of it you must first know that the beta of the overall market is one. Any stock with a beta of greater than one is considered more volatile than the market, while those with a beta below one are either less volatile or poorly correlated with the market.

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View our latest analysis for Comfort Systems USA

What does FIX's beta value mean to investors?

Zooming in on Comfort Systems USA, we see it has a five year beta of 1.32. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market. If the past is any guide, we would expect that Comfort Systems USA shares will rise quicker than the markets in times of optimism, but fall faster in times of pessimism. Share price volatility is well worth considering, but most long term investors consider the history of revenue and earnings growth to be more important. Take a look at how Comfort Systems USA fares in that regard, below.

NYSE:FIX Income Statement, May 20th 2019

Does FIX's size influence the expected beta?

Comfort Systems USA is a small cap stock with a market capitalisation of US$1.8b. Most companies this size are actively traded. It has a relatively high beta, which is not unusual among small-cap stocks. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a smaller company, actively traded small-cap stocks often have a higher beta that a similar large-cap stock.

What this means for you:

Since Comfort Systems USA has a reasonably high beta, it's worth considering why it is so heavily influenced by broader market sentiment. For example, it might be a high growth stock or have a lot of operating leverage in its business model. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Comfort Systems USA’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for FIX’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for FIX’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has FIX 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 FIX's historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how FIX measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.