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If you own shares in Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ:BNFT) 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. 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 see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated price movements. Some investors use beta as a measure of how much a certain stock is impacted by market risk (volatility). While we should keep in mind that Warren Buffett has cautioned that ‘Volatility is far from synonymous with risk’, beta is still a useful factor to consider. To make good use of it you must first know 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.
What does BNFT’s beta value mean to investors?
Given that it has a beta of 1.46, we can surmise that the Benefitfocus share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). If this beta value holds true in the future, Benefitfocus shares are likely to rise more than the market when the market is going up, but fall faster when the market is going down. 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 Benefitfocus fares in that regard, below.
How does BNFT’s size impact its beta?
Benefitfocus is a small cap stock with a market capitalisation of US$845m. Most companies this size are actively traded. It’s not particularly surprising that it has a higher beta than the overall market. That’s because it takes less money to influence the share price of a smaller company, than a bigger company.
What this means for you:
Beta only tells us that the Benefitfocus 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 Benefitfocus’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 BNFT’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for BNFT’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has BNFT 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 BNFT’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how BNFT 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 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. Thank you for reading.