If you own shares in eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ:EHTH) then it's worth thinking about how it contributes to the volatility of your portfolio, overall. In finance, Beta is a measure of volatility. Modern finance theory considers volatility to be a measure of risk, and there are two main types of price volatility. The first category is company specific volatility. This can be dealt with by limiting your exposure to any particular stock. 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 mimic the volatility of the market quite closely, while others demonstrate muted, exagerrated or uncorrelated 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 greater than one is more sensitive to broader market movements than a stock with a beta of less than one.
What EHTH's beta value tells investors
Zooming in on eHealth, we see it has a five year beta of 1.15. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market. Based on this history, investors should be aware that eHealth are likely to rise strongly in times of greed, but sell off in times of fear. 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 eHealth fares in that regard, below.
Does EHTH's size influence the expected beta?
With a market capitalisation of US$2.1b, eHealth is a pretty big company, even by global standards. It is quite likely well known to very many investors. It takes deep pocketed investors to influence the share price of a large company, so it's a little unusual to see companies this size with high beta values. It may be that that this company is more heavily impacted by broader economic factors than most.
What this means for you:
Since eHealth 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. In order to fully understand whether EHTH is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as eHealth’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 EHTH’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for EHTH’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has EHTH 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 EHTH's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how EHTH measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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