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Should You Be Concerned About United Bankshares, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:UBSI) Historical Volatility?

Simply Wall St

Anyone researching United Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:UBSI) might want to consider the historical volatility of the share price. Modern finance theory considers volatility to be a measure of risk, and there are two main types of price volatility. First, we have company specific volatility, which is the price gyrations of an individual stock. Holding at least 8 stocks can reduce this kind of risk across a portfolio. The second sort is caused by the natural volatility of markets, overall. For example, certain macroeconomic events will impact (virtually) all stocks on the market.

Some stocks are more sensitive to general market forces than others. Beta is a widely used metric to measure a stock's exposure to market risk (volatility). Before we go on, it's worth noting that Warren Buffett pointed out in his 2014 letter to shareholders that 'volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' Having said that, beta can still be rather useful. The first thing to understand about beta is that the beta of the overall market is 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 United Bankshares

What we can learn from UBSI's beta value

Zooming in on United Bankshares, we see it has a five year beta of 1.28. 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 United Bankshares 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 United Bankshares fares in that regard, below.

NasdaqGS:UBSI Income Statement, April 24th 2019

How does UBSI's size impact its beta?

United Bankshares is a fairly large company. It has a market capitalisation of US$4.0b, which means it is probably on the radar of most investors. It has a relatively high beta, suggesting it may be somehow leveraged to macroeconomic conditions. For example, it might be a high growth stock with lots of investors trading the shares. It's notable when large companies to have high beta values, because it usually takes substantial capital flows to move their share prices.

What this means for you:

Since United Bankshares 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 UBSI is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as United Bankshares’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 UBSI’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for UBSI’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has UBSI 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 UBSI's historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how UBSI 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.