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Does Southern First Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:SFST) Have A High Beta?

Ben Rossbaum

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If you own shares in Southern First Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:SFST) 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 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. 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 below one is either less volatile than the market, or more volatile but not corellated with the overall market. In comparison a stock with a beta of over one tends to be move in a similar direction to the market in the long term, but with greater changes in price.

Check out our latest analysis for Southern First Bancshares

What does SFST’s beta value mean to investors?

Zooming in on Southern First Bancshares, we see it has a five year beta of 0.90. 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. Beta is worth considering, but it’s also important to consider whether Southern First Bancshares is growing earnings and revenue. You can take a look for yourself, below.

NASDAQGM:SFST Income Statement Export February 9th 19

Could SFST’s size cause it to be more volatile?

With a market capitalisation of US$277m, Southern First Bancshares 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 Southern First Bancshares 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 Southern First Bancshares’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for SFST’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SFST’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has SFST 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 SFST’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how SFST 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com.