If you own shares in FreightCar America, Inc. (NASDAQ:RAIL) then it’s worth thinking about how it contributes to the volatility of your portfolio, overall. In finance, Beta is a measure of volatility. 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 see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated price movements. 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 greater than one is more sensitive to broader market movements than a stock with a beta of less than one.
What RAIL’s beta value tells investors
While history does not always repeat, this level of beta may indicate that the stock price will continue to be exposed to market risk, albeit not overly so. 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 FreightCar America fares in that regard, below.
Does RAIL’s size influence the expected beta?
FreightCar America is a noticeably small company, with a market capitalisation of US$17m. Most companies this size are not always actively traded. It doesn’t take much money to really move the share price of a company as small as this one. That makes it somewhat unusual that it has a beta value so close to the overall market.
What this means for you:
Since FreightCar America has a beta close to one, it will probably show a positive return when the market is moving up, based on history. If you’re trying to generate better returns than the market, it would be worth thinking about other metrics such as cashflows, dividends and revenue growth might be a more useful guide to the future. In order to fully understand whether RAIL is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as FreightCar America’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 RAIL’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for RAIL’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has RAIL 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 RAIL’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how RAIL 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 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.
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