Anyone researching Wabash National Corporation (NYSE:WNC) 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 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 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 WNC’s beta value mean to investors?
Zooming in on Wabash National, we see it has a five year beta of 1.79. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market the market. If the past is any guide, we would expect that Wabash National shares will rise quicker than the markets in times of optimism, but fall faster in times of pessimism. Beta is worth considering, but it’s also important to consider whether Wabash National is growing earnings and revenue. You can take a look for yourself, below.
Does WNC’s size influence the expected beta?
Wabash National is a small company, but not tiny and little known. It has a market capitalisation of US$882m, which means it would be on the radar of intstitutional investors. It has a relatively high beta, which is not unusual among small-cap stocks. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a smaller company, actively traded small-cap stocks often have a higher beta that a similar large-cap stock.
What this means for you:
Beta only tells us that the Wabash National share price is sensitive to broader market movements. This could indicate that it is a high growth company, or is heavily influenced by sentiment because it is speculative. Alternatively, it could have operating leverage in its business model. Ultimately, beta is an interesting metric, but there’s plenty more to learn. In order to fully understand whether WNC is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as Wabash National’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 WNC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for WNC’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has WNC 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 WNC’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how WNC measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
To help readers see past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.