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What Kind Of Risk Should You Expect For Provident Financial Services Inc (NYSE:PFS)?

Sebastian Eder

Anyone researching Provident Financial Services Inc (NYSE:PFS) 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 type is company specific volatility. Investors use diversification across uncorrelated stocks to reduce this kind of price volatility across the 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 are more sensitive to general market forces than others. 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 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 Provident Financial Services

What PFS’s beta value tells investors

Given that it has a beta of 0.84, we can surmise that the Provident Financial Services share price has not been strongly impacted by broader market volatility (over the last 5 years). This suggests that including it in your portfolio will reduce volatility arising from broader market movements, assuming your portfolio’s weighted average beta is higher than 0.84. 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 Provident Financial Services’s revenue and earnings in the image below.

NYSE:PFS Income Statement Export August 28th 18

How does PFS’s size impact its beta?

Provident Financial Services is a small cap stock with a market capitalisation of US$1.67b. Most companies this size are actively traded. Small cap stocks ofthen have a higher beta than the overall market. However, small companies can also be strongly impacted by company specific developments, which can move the share price in ways that are unrelated to the broader market. That could explain why this one has a low beta value.

What this means for you:

Since Provident Financial Services is not heavily influenced by market moves, its share price is probably far more dependend on company specific developments. It could pay to take a closer look at metrics such as revenue growth, earnings growth, and debt. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it’s well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Provident Financial Services’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 PFS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for PFS’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has PFS 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 PFS’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how PFS 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.