If you’re interested in Harvard Bioscience, Inc. (NASDAQ:HBIO), 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 type is company specific volatility. Investors use diversification across uncorrelated stocks to reduce this kind of price volatility across the 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 is a widely used metric to measure a stock’s exposure to market risk (volatility). Before we go on, it’s worth noting that Warren Buffett pointed out in his 2014 letter to shareholders that ‘volatility is far from synonymous with risk.’ Having said that, beta can still be rather useful. The first thing to understand about beta is that the beta of the overall market is 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.
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What HBIO’s beta value tells investors
Zooming in on Harvard Bioscience, we see it has a five year beta of 1.34. This is above 1, so historically its share price has been influenced by the broader volatility of the stock market. Based on this history, investors should be aware that Harvard Bioscience are likely to rise strongly in times of greed, but sell off in times of fear. 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 Harvard Bioscience’s revenue and earnings in the image below.
Could HBIO’s size cause it to be more volatile?
Harvard Bioscience is a rather small company. It has a market capitalisation of US$87m, which means it is probably under the radar of most investors. It has a relatively high beta, suggesting it is fairly actively traded for a company of its size. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a small company like this, when a stock this size is actively traded it is quite often more sensitive to market volatility than similar large companies.
What this means for you:
Beta only tells us that the Harvard Bioscience share price is sensitive to broader market movements. This could indicate that it is a high growth company, or is heavily influenced by sentiment because it is speculative. Alternatively, it could have operating leverage in its business model. Ultimately, beta is an interesting metric, but there’s plenty more to learn. This article aims to educate investors about beta values, but it’s well worth looking at important company-specific fundamentals such as Harvard Bioscience’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 HBIO’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for HBIO’s outlook.
- Past Track Record: Has HBIO 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 HBIO’s historicals for more clarity.
- Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how HBIO measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.