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How Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. (NASDAQ:USAP) Can Impact Your Portfolio Volatility

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Simply Wall St
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If you own shares in Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. (NASDAQ:USAP) 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. 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 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 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Universal Stainless & Alloy Products

What does USAP's beta value mean to investors?

Given that it has a beta of 1.48, we can surmise that the Universal Stainless & Alloy Products share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). If the past is any guide, we would expect that Universal Stainless & Alloy Products shares will rise quicker than the markets in times of optimism, but fall faster in times of pessimism. 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 Universal Stainless & Alloy Products fares in that regard, below.

NasdaqGS:USAP Income Statement, January 17th 2020
NasdaqGS:USAP Income Statement, January 17th 2020

Does USAP's size influence the expected beta?

Universal Stainless & Alloy Products is a noticeably small company, with a market capitalisation of US$125m. Most companies this size are not always actively traded. Relatively few investors can influence the price of a smaller company, compared to a large company. This could explain the high beta value, in this case.

What this means for you:

Beta only tells us that the Universal Stainless & Alloy Products 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 Universal Stainless & Alloy Products’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:

  1. Financial Health: Are USAP’s operations financially sustainable? Balance sheets can be hard to analyze, which is why we’ve done it for you. Check out our financial health checks here.

  2. Past Track Record: Has USAP 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 USAP's historicals for more clarity.

  3. 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.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.

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. Thank you for reading.