How China Distance Education Holdings Limited (NYSE:DL) Can Impact Your Portfolio Volatility

If you are looking to invest in China Distance Education Holdings Limited’s (NYSE:DL), or currently own the stock, then you need to understand its beta in order to understand how it can affect the risk of your portfolio. Broadly speaking, there are two types of risk you should consider when investing in stocks such as DL. The first risk to think about is company-specific, which can be diversified away by investing in other companies in order to lower your exposure to one particular stock. The second type is market risk, one that you cannot diversify away, since it arises from macroeconomic factors which directly affects all the stocks in the market.

Not every stock is exposed to the same level of market risk. The most widely used metric to quantify a stock’s market risk is beta, and the market as a whole represents a beta 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 China Distance Education Holdings

An interpretation of DL’s beta

With a beta of 1.56, China Distance Education Holdings is a stock that tends to experience more gains than the market during a growth phase and also a bigger reduction in value compared to the market during a broad downturn. According to this value of beta, DL 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:DL Income Statement May 8th 18
NYSE:DL Income Statement May 8th 18

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

DL, with its market capitalisation of US$263.63M, is a small-cap stock, which generally have higher beta than similar companies of larger size. Furthermore, the company operates in the consumer services industry, which has been found to have high sensitivity to market-wide shocks. Therefore, investors may expect high beta associated with small companies, as well as those operating in the consumer services industry, relative to those more well-established firms in a more defensive industry. This supports our interpretation of DL’s beta value discussed above. Next, we will examine the fundamental factors which can cause cyclicality in the stock.

How DL’s assets could affect its beta

During times of economic downturn, low demand may cause companies to readjust production of their goods and services. It is more difficult for companies to lower their cost, if the majority of these costs are generated by fixed assets. Therefore, this is a type of risk which is associated with higher beta. I test DL’s ratio of fixed assets to total assets in order to determine how high the risk is associated with this type of constraint. Given that fixed assets make up less than a third of the company’s total assets, DL doesn’t rely heavily upon these expensive, inflexible assets to run its business during downturns. As a result, the company may be less volatile relative to broad market movements, compared to a company of similar size but higher proportion of fixed assets. This outcome contradicts DL’s current beta value which indicates an above-average volatility.

What this means for you:

You may reap the gains of DL’s returns during times of economic growth by holding the stock. Its low fixed cost also implies that it has the flexibility to adjust its cost to preserve margins during times of a downturn. I recommend analysing the stock in terms of your current portfolio composition before deciding to invest more into DL. What I have not mentioned in my article here are important company-specific fundamentals such as China Distance Education Holdings’s financial health and performance track record. I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Financial Health: Is DL’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 DL 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 DL’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.