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Anyone researching MSC Industrial Direct Co., Inc. (NYSE:MSM) 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 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 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. 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 MSM's beta value tells investors
MSC Industrial Direct has a five-year beta of 0.92. This is reasonably close to the market beta of 1, so the stock has in the past displayed similar levels of volatility to the overall market. While history does not always repeat, this may indicate that the stock price will continue to be exposed to market risk, albeit not overly so. 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 MSC Industrial Direct fares in that regard, below.
How does MSM's size impact its beta?
MSC Industrial Direct is a fairly large company. It has a market capitalisation of US$4.1b, which means it is probably on the radar of most investors. It's not overly surprising to see large companies with beta values reasonably close to the market average. After all, large companies make up a higher weighting of the index than do small companies.
What this means for you:
Since MSC Industrial Direct has a beta close to one, it will probably show a positive return when the market is moving up, based on history. If you're trying to generate better returns than the market, it would be worth thinking about other metrics such as cashflows, dividends and revenue growth might be a more useful guide to the future. In order to fully understand whether MSM is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as MSC Industrial Direct’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 MSM’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for MSM’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has MSM 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 MSM's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how MSM 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 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.