Why You Need To Look At This Factor Before Buying Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:MACK)

If you are looking to invest in Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc’s (NASDAQ:MACK), 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 MACK. 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 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. 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.

View our latest analysis for Merrimack Pharmaceuticals

An interpretation of MACK’s beta

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals has a beta of 1.71, 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, MACK will help diversify your portfolio, if it currently comprises of low-beta stocks. This will be beneficial for portfolio returns, in particular, when current market sentiment is positive.

NasdaqGM:MACK Income Statement Mar 5th 18
NasdaqGM:MACK Income Statement Mar 5th 18

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

MACK, with its market capitalisation of US$146.73M, is a small-cap stock, which generally have higher beta than similar companies of larger size. However, MACK operates in the biotechs industry, which has commonly demonstrated muted reactions to market-wide shocks. As a result, we should expect a high beta for the small-cap MACK but a low beta for the biotechs industry. This is an interesting conclusion, since its industry suggests MACK should be less volatile than it actually is. A potential driver of this variance can be a fundamental factor, which we will take a look at next.

Can MACK’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 MACK’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, MACK doesn’t rely heavily upon these expensive, inflexible assets to run its business during downturns. Thus, we can expect MACK to be more stable in the face of market movements, relative to its peers of similar size but with a higher portion of fixed assets on their books. However, this is the opposite to what MACK’s actual beta value suggests, which is higher stock volatility relative to the market.

What this means for you:

You could benefit from higher returns during times of economic growth by holding onto MACK. Its low fixed cost also means that, in terms of operating leverage, it is relatively flexible during times of economic downturns. What I have not mentioned in my article here are important company-specific fundamentals such as Merrimack Pharmaceuticals’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 MACK’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for MACK’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has MACK 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 MACK’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.