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Before You Buy J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), Consider Its Volatility

Simply Wall St

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If you're interested in J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), 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. Volatility is considered to be a measure of risk in modern finance theory. Investors may think of volatility as falling into two main categories. The first type is company specific volatility. Investors use diversification across uncorrelated stocks to reduce this kind of price volatility across the portfolio. The other type, which cannot be diversified away, is the volatility of the entire market. Every stock in the market is exposed to this volatility, which is linked to the fact that stocks prices are correlated in an efficient 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 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.

Check out our latest analysis for J. C. Penney Company

What JCP's beta value tells investors

Given that it has a beta of 1.33, we can surmise that the J. C. Penney Company share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). If the past is any guide, we would expect that J. C. Penney Company 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 J. C. Penney Company fares in that regard, below.

NYSE:JCP Income Statement, June 11th 2019

How does JCP's size impact its beta?

J. C. Penney Company is a noticeably small company, with a market capitalisation of US$323m. Most companies this size are not always actively traded. Relatively few investors can influence the price of a smaller company, compared to a large company. This could explain the high beta value, in this case.

What this means for you:

Since J. C. Penney Company tends to moves up when the market is going up, and down when it's going down, potential investors may wish to reflect on the overall market, when considering the stock. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as J. C. Penney Company’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to continue your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for JCP’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for JCP’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has JCP 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 JCP's historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how JCP 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.