Anyone researching Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:MACK) 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 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 see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated 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 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.
What we can learn from MACK's beta value
Looking at the last five years, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals has a beta of 1.98. The fact that this is well above 1 indicates that its share price movements have shown sensitivity to overall market volatility. If the past is any guide, we would expect that Merrimack Pharmaceuticals shares will rise quicker than the markets in times of optimism, but fall faster in times of pessimism. Beta is worth considering, but it's also important to consider whether Merrimack Pharmaceuticals is growing earnings and revenue. You can take a look for yourself, below.
How does MACK's size impact its beta?
With a market capitalisation of US$42m, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals is a very small company by global standards. It is quite likely to be unknown to 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:
Since Merrimack Pharmaceuticals 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 Merrimack Pharmaceuticals’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to continue your research by taking a look at the following:
- Past Track Record: Has MACK 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 MACK's historicals for more clarity.
- Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.
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