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Should You Be Concerned About SPS Commerce Inc’s (SPSC) Risks?

Donald Bartholomew

For SPS Commerce Inc’s (NASDAQ:SPSC) shareholders, and also potential investors in the stock, understanding how the stock’s risk and return characteristics can impact your portfolio is important. The beta measures SPSC’s exposure to the wider market risk, which reflects changes in economic and political factors. Not all stocks are expose to the same level of market risk, and the broad market index represents a beta value of one. Any stock with a beta of greater than one is considered more volatile than the market, and those with a beta less than one is generally less volatile.

View our latest analysis for SPS Commerce

What does SPSC's beta value mean?

With a beta of 1.18, SPS Commerce is a stock that tends to experience more gains than the market during a growth phase and also a bigger reduction in value compared to the market during a broad downturn. According to this value of beta, SPSC may be a stock for investors with a portfolio mainly made up of low-beta stocks. This is because during times of bullish sentiment, you can reap more of the upside with high-beta stocks compared to muted movements of low-beta holdings.

How does SPSC's size and industry impact its risk?

A market capitalisation of USD $976.65M puts SPSC in the category of small-cap stocks, which tends to possess higher beta than larger companies. Furthermore, the company operates in the internet software and services industry, which has been found to have high sensitivity to market-wide shocks. So, investors should expect a larger beta for smaller companies operating in a cyclical industry in contrast with lower beta for larger firms in a more defensive industry. This is consistent with SPSC’s individual beta value we discussed above. Fundamental factors can also drive the cyclicality of the stock, which we will take a look at next.

NasdaqGS:SPSC Income Statement Oct 3rd 17

Is SPSC'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 examine SPSC’s ratio of fixed assets to total assets to see whether the company is highly exposed to the risk of this type of constraint. Considering fixed assets account for less than a third of the company's overall assets, SPSC seems to have a smaller dependency on fixed costs to generate revenue. Thus, we can expect SPSC to be more stable in the face of market movements, relative to its peers of similar size but with a higher portion of fixed assets on their books. This outcome contradicts SPSC’s current beta value which indicates an above-average volatility.

What this means for you:

Are you a shareholder? You may reap the gains of SPSC's returns during times of economic growth by holding the stock. Its low fixed cost also implies that it has the flexibility to adjust its cost to preserve margins during times of a downturn. I recommend analysing the stock in terms of your current portfolio composition before deciding to invest more into SPSC.

Are you a potential investor? Before you buy SPSC, you should take into account how their portfolio currently moves with the market, in addition to the current economic environment. SPSC may be a valuable addition to portfolios during times of economic growth, and it may be work looking further into fundamental factors such as current valuation and financial health.

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 SPS Commerce 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 SPS Commerce 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.