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If you own shares in Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. (NYSE:TDS) 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. 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 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. 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 TDS's beta value tells investors
With a beta of 1.02, (which is quite close to 1) the share price of Telephone and Data Systems has historically been about as voltile as the broader market. If the future looks like the past, we could therefore consider it likely that the stock price will experience share price volatility that is roughly similar to the overall market. 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 Telephone and Data Systems fares in that regard, below.
How does TDS's size impact its beta?
Telephone and Data Systems is a reasonably big company, with a market capitalisation of US$3.5b. Most companies this size are actively traded with decent volumes of shares changing hands each day. We shouldn't be surprised to see a large company like this with a beta value quite close to the market average. Large companies often move roughly in line with the market. In part, that's because there are fewer individual events that are signficant enough to markedly change the value of the stock (compared to small companies, at least).
What this means for you:
Since Telephone and Data Systems 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. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Telephone and Data Systems’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to continue your research by taking a look at the following:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for TDS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for TDS’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has TDS 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 TDS's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how TDS 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.