Anyone researching Enterprise Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBTC) 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. The first category is company specific volatility. This can be dealt with by limiting your exposure to any particular stock. 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. Any stock with a beta of greater than one is considered more volatile than the market, while those with a beta below one are either less volatile or poorly correlated with the market.
What does EBTC's beta value mean to investors?
Zooming in on Enterprise Bancorp, we see it has a five year beta of 0.85. This is below 1, so historically its share price has been rather independent from the market. If history is a good guide, owning the stock should help ensure that your portfolio is not overly sensitive to market volatility. Many would argue that beta is useful in position sizing, but fundamental metrics such as revenue and earnings are more important overall. You can see Enterprise Bancorp's revenue and earnings in the image below.
Does EBTC's size influence the expected beta?
With a market capitalisation of US$357m, Enterprise Bancorp is a very small company by global standards. It is quite likely to be unknown to most investors. Companies with market capitalisations around this size often show poor correlation with the broader market because market volatility is overshadowed by company specific events, or other factors. It's worth checking to see how often shares are traded, because very small companies with very low beta values are often only thinly traded.
What this means for you:
The Enterprise Bancorp 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. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Enterprise Bancorp’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 EBTC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for EBTC’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has EBTC 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 EBTC's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how EBTC measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.