One Thing To Consider Before Buying AXIS Capital Holdings Limited (NYSE:AXS)

For AXIS Capital Holdings Limited’s (NYSE:AXS) shareholders, and also potential investors in the stock, understanding how the stock’s risk and return characteristics can impact your portfolio is important. Generally, an investor should consider two types of risk that impact the market value of AXS. 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 other type of risk, which cannot be diversified away, is market risk. Every stock in the market is exposed to this risk, which arises from macroeconomic factors such as economic growth and geo-political tussles just to name a few.

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.

See our latest analysis for AXIS Capital Holdings

An interpretation of AXS’s beta

AXIS Capital Holdings’s beta of 0.34 indicates that the stock value will be less variable compared to the whole stock market. This means the stock is more defensive against the ups and downs of a stock market, moving by less than the entire market index in times of change. AXS’s beta implies it may be a stock that investors with high-beta portfolios might find relevant if they wanted to reduce their exposure to market risk, especially during times of downturns.

NYSE:AXS Income Statement Jun 7th 18
NYSE:AXS Income Statement Jun 7th 18

Does AXS’s size and industry impact the expected beta?

With a market capitalisation of US$4.79B, AXS is considered an established entity, which has generally experienced less relative risk in comparison to smaller sized companies. Conversely, the company operates in the insurance industry, which has been found to have high sensitivity to market-wide shocks. As a result, we should expect a low beta for the large-cap nature of AXS but a higher beta for the insurance industry. It seems as though there is an inconsistency in risks from AXS’s size and industry.

Is AXS’s cost structure indicative of a high 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 AXS’s ratio of fixed assets to total assets in order to determine how high the risk is associated with this type of constraint. Considering fixed assets is virtually non-existent in AXS’s operations, it has low dependency on fixed costs to generate revenue. 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. Similarly, AXS’s beta value conveys the same message.

What this means for you:

AXS may be a worthwhile stock to hold onto in order to cushion the impact of a downturn. Depending on the composition of your portfolio, low-beta stocks such as AXS is valuable to lower your risk of market exposure, in particular, during times of economic decline. What I have not mentioned in my article here are important company-specific fundamentals such as AXIS Capital Holdings’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for AXS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for AXS’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has AXS 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 AXS’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.