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If you own shares in Aspen Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASPU) then it's worth thinking about how it contributes to the volatility of your portfolio, overall. In finance, Beta is a measure of volatility. Modern finance theory considers volatility to be a measure of risk, and there are two main types of price volatility. The first type is company specific volatility. Investors use diversification across uncorrelated stocks to reduce this kind of price volatility across the portfolio. 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.
What we can learn from ASPU's beta value
Given that it has a beta of 0.90, we can surmise that the Aspen Group share price has not been strongly impacted by broader market volatility (over the last 5 years). 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). 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 Aspen Group's revenue and earnings in the image below.
Could ASPU's size cause it to be more volatile?
With a market capitalisation of US$174m, Aspen Group is a very small company by global standards. It is quite likely to be unknown to most investors. Very small companies often have a low beta value because their share prices are not well correlated with market volatility. This could be because the price is reacting to company specific events. Alternatively, the shares may not be actively traded.
What this means for you:
The Aspen Group doesn't usually show much sensitivity to the broader market. This could be for a variety of reasons. Typically, smaller companies have a low beta if their share price tends to move a lot due to company specific developments. Alternatively, an strong dividend payer might move less than the market because investors are valuing it for its income stream. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Aspen Group’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:
Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for ASPU’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for ASPU’s outlook.
Past Track Record: Has ASPU 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 ASPU's historicals for more clarity.
Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how ASPU 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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