Anyone researching FirstService Corporation (TSE:FSV) 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. First, we have company specific volatility, which is the price gyrations of an individual stock. Holding at least 8 stocks can reduce this kind of risk across a 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 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. 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 FSV's beta value tells investors
Zooming in on FirstService, we see it has a five year beta of 0.88. This is below 1, so historically its share price has been rather independent from the market. This means that -- if history is a guide -- buying the stock would reduce the impact of overall market volatility in many portfolios (depending on the beta of the portfolio, of course). 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 FirstService fares in that regard, below.
Could FSV's size cause it to be more volatile?
FirstService is a reasonably big company, with a market capitalisation of CA$5.3b. Most companies this size are actively traded with decent volumes of shares changing hands each day. When large companies like this one have a low beta value, there is usually some other factor that is having an outsized impact on the share price. For example, a business with significant fixed regulated assets might earn a reasonably predictable return, regardless of broader macroeconomic factors. Alternatively, lumpy earnings might mean minimal share price correlation with the broader market.
What this means for you:
One potential advantage of owning low beta stocks like FirstService is that your overall portfolio won't be too sensitive to overall market movements. However, this can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what's happening in the broader market. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as FirstService’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 FSV’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for FSV’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has FSV 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 FSV's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how FSV measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
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.
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