How Does Investing In General Finance Corporation (NASDAQ:GFN) Impact The Volatility Of Your Portfolio?

If you own shares in General Finance Corporation (NASDAQ:GFN) 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 mimic the volatility of the market quite closely, while others demonstrate muted, exagerrated or uncorrelated price movements. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for General Finance

What GFN’s beta value tells investors

Given that it has a beta of 1.54, we can surmise that the General Finance share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). If the past is any guide, we would expect that General Finance shares will rise quicker than the markets in times of optimism, but fall faster in times of pessimism. Beta is worth considering, but it’s also important to consider whether General Finance is growing earnings and revenue. You can take a look for yourself, below.

NasdaqGM:GFN Income Statement, October 21st 2019
NasdaqGM:GFN Income Statement, October 21st 2019

Could GFN’s size cause it to be more volatile?

General Finance is a noticeably small company, with a market capitalisation of US$271m. Most companies this size are not always actively traded. It has a relatively high beta, suggesting it is fairly actively traded for a company of its size. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a small company like this, when a stock this size is actively traded it is quite often more sensitive to market volatility than similar large companies.

What this means for you:

Since General Finance has a reasonably high beta, it’s worth considering why it is so heavily influenced by broader market sentiment. For example, it might be a high growth stock or have a lot of operating leverage in its business model. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it’s well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as General Finance’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for GFN’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for GFN’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has GFN 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 GFN’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how GFN 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 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. Thank you for reading.