If you own shares in South Jersey Industries, Inc. (NYSE:SJI) 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 second type is the broader market volatility, which you cannot diversify away, since it arises from macroeconomic factors which directly affects all the stocks on the 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 greater than one is more sensitive to broader market movements than a stock with a beta of less than one.
What does SJI's beta value mean to investors?
Looking at the last five years, South Jersey Industries has a beta of 0.81. The fact that this is well below 1 indicates that its share price movements haven't historically been very sensitive to overall market volatility. This means that -- if history is a guide -- buying the stock would reduce the impact of overall market volatility in many portfolios (depending on the beta of the portfolio, of course). 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 South Jersey Industries's revenue and earnings in the image below.
Does SJI's size influence the expected beta?
South Jersey Industries is a reasonably big company, with a market capitalisation of US$2.9b. Most companies this size are actively traded with decent volumes of shares changing hands each day. When a large company like this trades with a low beta value, it is often because there is some other systemic factor influencing the share price. For example, commodity prices might influence a mining company strongly, while expectations around dividend payments (and capital expenditure requirements) might have a big impact on utilities.
What this means for you:
The South Jersey Industries 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 South Jersey Industries’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 SJI’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SJI’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has SJI 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 SJI's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how SJI 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.