Anyone researching Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ:BNFT) might want to consider the historical volatility of the share price. 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 see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated 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 greater than one is more sensitive to broader market movements than a stock with a beta of less than one.
What BNFT's beta value tells investors
Zooming in on Benefitfocus, 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. If this beta value holds true in the future, Benefitfocus shares are likely to rise more than the market when the market is going up, but fall faster when the market is going down. Beta is worth considering, but it's also important to consider whether Benefitfocus is growing earnings and revenue. You can take a look for yourself, below.
Does BNFT's size influence the expected beta?
Benefitfocus is a small cap stock with a market capitalisation of US$632m. Most companies this size are actively traded. It is quite common to see a small-cap stock with a beta greater than one. In part, that's because relatively few investors can influence the price of a smaller company, compared to a large company.
What this means for you:
Since Benefitfocus 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. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Benefitfocus’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for BNFT’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for BNFT’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has BNFT 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 BNFT's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how BNFT 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 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.
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