If you own shares in American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (NYSE:AEO) then it's worth thinking about how it contributes to the volatility of your portfolio, overall. In finance, Beta is a measure of volatility. Volatility is considered to be a measure of risk in modern finance theory. Investors may think of volatility as falling into two main categories. 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 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. 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. 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.
What we can learn from AEO's beta value
Given that it has a beta of 0.86, we can surmise that the American Eagle Outfitters share price has not been strongly impacted by broader market volatility (over the last 5 years). If history is a good guide, owning the stock should help ensure that your portfolio is not overly sensitive to market volatility. 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 American Eagle Outfitters fares in that regard, below.
Does AEO's size influence the expected beta?
American Eagle Outfitters is a reasonably big company, with a market capitalisation of US$2.8b. Most companies this size are actively traded with decent volumes of shares changing hands each day. When large companies like this one have a low beta value, there is usually some other factor that is having an outsized impact on the share price. For example, a business with significant fixed regulated assets might earn a reasonably predictable return, regardless of broader macroeconomic factors. Alternatively, lumpy earnings might mean minimal share price correlation with the broader market.
What this means for you:
The American Eagle Outfitters doesn't usually show much sensitivity to the broader market. This could be for a variety of reasons. Typically, smaller companies have a low beta if their share price tends to move a lot due to company specific developments. Alternatively, an strong dividend payer might move less than the market because investors are valuing it for its income stream. In order to fully understand whether AEO is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as American Eagle Outfitters’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 AEO’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for AEO’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has AEO 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 AEO's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how AEO 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 email@example.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.