Before You Buy Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (LON:SEPL), Consider Its Volatility

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Anyone researching Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (LON:SEPL) 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. 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 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 mimic the volatility of the market quite closely, while others demonstrate muted, exagerrated or uncorrelated 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. Any stock with a beta of greater than one is considered more volatile than the market, while those with a beta below one are either less volatile or poorly correlated with the market.

View our latest analysis for Seplat Petroleum Development

What SEPL’s beta value tells investors

Given that it has a beta of 1.38, we can surmise that the Seplat Petroleum Development share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). If the past is any guide, we would expect that Seplat Petroleum Development shares will rise quicker than the markets in times of optimism, but fall faster in times of pessimism. 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 Seplat Petroleum Development’s revenue and earnings in the image below.

LSE:SEPL Income Statement Export February 15th 19
LSE:SEPL Income Statement Export February 15th 19

How does SEPL’s size impact its beta?

Seplat Petroleum Development is a small cap stock with a market capitalisation of UK£723m. Most companies this size are actively traded. It has a relatively high beta, which is not unusual among small-cap stocks. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a smaller company, actively traded small-cap stocks often have a higher beta that a similar large-cap stock.

What this means for you:

Since Seplat Petroleum Development 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. In order to fully understand whether SEPL is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as Seplat Petroleum Development’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to continue your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for SEPL’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SEPL’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has SEPL 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 SEPL’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how SEPL measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.