Anyone researching Harte Hanks, Inc. (NYSE:HHS) 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 are more sensitive to general market forces than others. 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 we can learn from HHS's beta value
Zooming in on Harte Hanks, we see it has a five year beta of 0.89. 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 Harte Hanks fares in that regard, below.
How does HHS's size impact its beta?
With a market capitalisation of US$17m, Harte Hanks is a very small company by global standards. It is quite likely to be unknown to most investors. It is not unusual for very small companies to have a low beta value, especially if only low volumes of shares are traded. Even when they are traded more actively, the share price is often more susceptible to company specific developments than overall market volatility.
What this means for you:
One potential advantage of owning low beta stocks like Harte Hanks 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. In order to fully understand whether HHS is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as Harte Hanks’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 HHS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for HHS’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has HHS 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 HHS's historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how HHS 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 email@example.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.