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Encore Capital Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECPG): What Does Its Beta Value Mean For Your Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

Anyone researching Encore Capital Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECPG) might want to consider the historical volatility of the share price. Modern finance theory considers volatility to be a measure of risk, and there are two main types of price volatility. The first category is company specific volatility. This can be dealt with by limiting your exposure to any particular stock. 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. 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 Encore Capital Group

What does ECPG's beta value mean to investors?

Zooming in on Encore Capital Group, we see it has a five year beta of 1.49. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market. Based on this history, investors should be aware that Encore Capital Group are likely to rise strongly in times of greed, but sell off in times of fear. 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 Encore Capital Group's revenue and earnings in the image below.

NasdaqGS:ECPG Income Statement, August 19th 2019

Does ECPG's size influence the expected beta?

Encore Capital Group is a small company, but not tiny and little known. It has a market capitalisation of US$1.1b, which means it would be on the radar of intstitutional investors. It has a relatively high beta, which is not unusual among small-cap stocks. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a smaller company, actively traded small-cap stocks often have a higher beta that a similar large-cap stock.

What this means for you:

Since Encore Capital Group has a reasonably high beta, it's worth considering why it is so heavily influenced by broader market sentiment. For example, it might be a high growth stock or have a lot of operating leverage in its business model. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Encore Capital Group’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to continue your research by taking a look at the following:

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