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Does USA Truck Inc (NASDAQ:USAK) Go Up With The Market?

Anyone researching USA Truck Inc (NASDAQ:USAK) 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. 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 see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated 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.

Check out our latest analysis for USA Truck

What does USAK’s beta value mean to investors?

Zooming in on USA Truck, we see it has a five year beta of 1.56. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market the market. Based on this history, investors should be aware that USA Truck are likely to rise strongly in times of greed, but sell off in times of fear. 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 USA Truck fares in that regard, below.

NasdaqGS:USAK Income Statement Export October 5th 18
NasdaqGS:USAK Income Statement Export October 5th 18

Does USAK’s size influence the expected beta?

USA Truck is a rather small company. It has a market capitalisation of US$160m, which means it is probably under the radar of most investors. It takes less money to influence the share price of a very small company. This may explain the excess volatility implied by this beta value.

What this means for you:

Beta only tells us that the USA Truck 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 USAK is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as USA Truck’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 USAK’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for USAK’s outlook.

  2. Past Track Record: Has USAK 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 USAK’s historicals for more clarity.

  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how USAK 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.