Anyone researching Pure Storage, Inc. (NYSE:PSTG) 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 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 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 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 PSTG's beta value tells investors
Zooming in on Pure Storage, we see it has a five year beta of 1.66. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market. If this beta value holds true in the future, Pure Storage shares are likely to rise more than the market when the market is going up, but fall faster when the market is going down. 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 Pure Storage's revenue and earnings in the image below.
How does PSTG's size impact its beta?
With a market capitalisation of US$3.3b, Pure Storage is a pretty big company, even by global standards. It is quite likely well known to very many investors. It takes deep pocketed investors to influence the share price of a large company, so it's a little unusual to see companies this size with high beta values. It may be that that this company is more heavily impacted by broader economic factors than most.
What this means for you:
Beta only tells us that the Pure Storage share price is sensitive to broader market movements. This could indicate that it is a high growth company, or is heavily influenced by sentiment because it is speculative. Alternatively, it could have operating leverage in its business model. Ultimately, beta is an interesting metric, but there's plenty more to learn. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it's well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Pure Storage’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 PSTG’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for PSTG’s outlook.
Past Track Record: Has PSTG 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 PSTG's historicals for more clarity.
Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how PSTG measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
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