Should You Be Holding TravelCenters of America LLC (NASDAQ:TA) Right Now?

For TravelCenters of America LLC’s (NASDAQ:TA) shareholders, and also potential investors in the stock, understanding how the stock’s risk and return characteristics can impact your portfolio is important. Broadly speaking, there are two types of risk you should consider when investing in stocks such as TA. The first risk to consider is company-specific, which can be diversified away when you invest in other companies in the same industry as TA, because it is rare that an entire industry collapses at once. 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.

Different characteristics of a stock expose it to various levels 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 considered more sensitive to market-wide shocks compared to a stock that trades below the value of one.

Check out our latest analysis for TravelCenters of America

An interpretation of TA’s beta

TravelCenters of America’s five-year beta of 1.71 means that the company’s value will swing up by more than the market during prosperous times, but also drop down by more in times of downturns. This level of volatility indicates bigger risk for investors who passively invest in the stock market index. According to this value of beta, TA 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.

NasdaqGS:TA Income Statement Export July 30th 18
NasdaqGS:TA Income Statement Export July 30th 18

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

TA, with its market capitalisation of US$171.99m, is a small-cap stock, which generally have higher beta than similar companies of larger size. In addition to size, TA also operates in the specialty retail industry, which has commonly demonstrated strong reactions to market-wide shocks. As a result, we should expect higher beta for small-cap stocks in a cyclical industry compared to larger stocks in a defensive industry. This is consistent with TA’s individual beta value we discussed above. Fundamental factors can also drive the cyclicality of the stock, which we will take a look at next.

How TA’s assets could affect its 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 TA’s ratio of fixed assets to total assets in order to determine how high the risk is associated with this type of constraint. TA’s fixed assets to total assets ratio of higher than 30% shows that the company uses up a big chunk of its capital on assets that are hard to scale up or down in short notice. As a result, this aspect of TA indicates a higher beta than a similar size company with a lower portion of fixed assets on their balance sheet. Similarly, TA’s beta value conveys the same message.

What this means for you:

You may reap the gains of TA’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. What I have not mentioned in my article here are important company-specific fundamentals such as TravelCenters of America’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 TA’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for TA’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has TA 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 TA’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.