Can The LS Starrett Company (NYSE:SCX) Improve Your Portfolio Returns?

For The LS Starrett Company’s (NYSE:SCX) shareholders, and also potential investors in the stock, understanding how the stock’s risk and return characteristics can impact your portfolio is important. There are two types of risks that affect the market value of a listed company such as SCX. The first type is company-specific risk, which can be diversified away by investing in other companies to reduce exposure to one particular stock. The second risk is market-wide, which arises from investing in the stock market. This risk reflects changes in economic and political factors that affects all stocks.

Not all stocks are expose to the same level of market risk. A popular measure of market risk for a stock is its beta, and the market as a whole represents a beta value of one. A stock with a beta greater than one is expected to exhibit higher volatility resulting from market-wide shocks compared to one with a beta below one.

Check out our latest analysis for L.S. Starrett

An interpretation of SCX’s beta

L.S. Starrett has a beta of 1.31, which means that the percentage change in its stock value will be higher than the entire market in times of booms and busts. A high level of beta means investors face higher risk associated with potential gains and losses driven by market movements. Based on this beta value, SCX can help magnify your portfolio return, especially if it is predominantly made up of low-beta stocks. If the market is going up, a higher exposure to the upside from a high-beta stock can push up your portfolio return.

NYSE:SCX Income Statement Export August 2nd 18
NYSE:SCX Income Statement Export August 2nd 18

Could SCX’s size and industry cause it to be more volatile?

A market capitalisation of US$46.43m puts SCX in the category of small-cap stocks, which tends to possess higher beta than larger companies. Moreover, SCX’s industry, machinery, is considered to be cyclical, which means it is more volatile than the market over the economic cycle. So, investors should expect a larger beta for smaller companies operating in a cyclical industry in contrast with lower beta for larger firms in a more defensive industry. This is consistent with SCX’s individual beta value we discussed above. Next, we will examine the fundamental factors which can cause cyclicality in the stock.

Can SCX’s asset-composition point to a higher beta?

An asset-heavy company tends to have a higher beta because the risk associated with running fixed assets during a downturn is highly expensive. I test SCX’s ratio of fixed assets to total assets in order to determine how high the risk is associated with this type of constraint. With a fixed-assets-to-total-assets ratio of greater than 30%, SCX appears to be a company that invests a large amount of capital in assets that are hard to scale down on short-notice. As a result, this aspect of SCX indicates a higher beta than a similar size company with a lower portion of fixed assets on their balance sheet. Similarly, SCX’s beta value conveys the same message.

What this means for you:

You may reap the gains of SCX’s returns in times of an economic boom. Though the business does have higher fixed cost than what is considered safe, during times of growth, consumer demand may be high enough to not warrant immediate concerns. However, during a downturn, a more defensive stock can cushion the impact of this risk. In order to fully understand whether SCX is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as L.S. Starrett’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Financial Health: Is SCX’s operations financially sustainable? Balance sheets can be hard to analyze, which is why we’ve done it for you. Check out our financial health checks here.
  2. Past Track Record: Has SCX 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 SCX’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

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.