Anyone researching Webster Financial Corporation (NYSE:WBS) 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 see their prices move in concert with the market. Others tend towards stronger, gentler or unrelated 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. 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 WBS’s beta value
Zooming in on Webster Financial, we see it has a five year beta of 1.72. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market. If the past is any guide, we would expect that Webster Financial 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 Webster Financial’s revenue and earnings in the image below.
How does WBS’s size impact its beta?
Webster Financial is a reasonably big company, with a market capitalisation of US$2.2b. Most companies this size are actively traded with decent volumes of shares changing hands each day. It takes deep pocketed investors to influence the share price of a large company, so it’s a little unusual to see companies this size with high beta values. It may be that that this company is more heavily impacted by broader economic factors than most.
What this means for you:
Since Webster Financial tends to move up when the market is going up, and down when it’s going down, potential investors may wish to reflect on the overall market, when considering the stock. In order to fully understand whether WBS is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as Webster Financial’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 WBS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for WBS’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has WBS 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 WBS’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how WBS measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.