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If you’re interested in Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WABC), then you might want to consider its beta (a measure of share price volatility) in order to understand how the stock could impact your portfolio. Modern finance theory considers volatility to be a measure of risk, and there are two main types of price volatility. 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 are more sensitive to general market forces than others. 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. 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.
What we can learn from WABC’s beta value
With a beta of 1, (which is quite close to 1) the share price of Westamerica Bancorporation has historically been about as voltile as the broader market. If the future looks like the past, we could therefore consider it likely that the stock price will experience share price volatility that is roughly similar to the overall market. 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 Westamerica Bancorporation fares in that regard, below.
Could WABC’s size cause it to be more volatile?
With a market capitalisation of US$1.6b, Westamerica Bancorporation is a small cap stock. However, it is big enough to catch the attention of professional investors. Small companies often have a high beta value because the stock price can move on relatively low capital flows. So it’s interesting to note that this stock historically has a beta value quite close to one.
What this means for you:
Since Westamerica Bancorporation 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. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it’s well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Westamerica Bancorporation’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 WABC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for WABC’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has WABC 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 WABC’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how WABC 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 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. Thank you for reading.