Should You Be Holding OneSpan Inc (NASDAQ:OSPN) Right Now?

If you’re interested in OneSpan Inc (NASDAQ:OSPN), 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 other type, which cannot be diversified away, is the volatility of the entire market. Every stock in the market is exposed to this volatility, which is linked to the fact that stocks prices are correlated in an efficient market.

Some stocks are more sensitive to general market forces than others. Beta can be a useful tool to understand how much a stock is influenced by market risk (volatility). However, Warren Buffett said ‘volatility is far from synonymous with risk’ in his 2014 letter to investors. So, while useful, beta is not the only metric to consider. To use beta as an investor, you must first understand that the overall market has a beta of 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.

See our latest analysis for OneSpan

What OSPN’s beta value tells investors

Given that it has a beta of 1.4, we can surmise that the OneSpan share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). If this beta value holds true in the future, OneSpan shares are likely to rise more than the market when the market is going up, but fall faster when the market is going down. 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 OneSpan’s revenue and earnings in the image below.

NasdaqCM:OSPN Income Statement Export August 22nd 18
NasdaqCM:OSPN Income Statement Export August 22nd 18

How does OSPN’s size impact its beta?

OneSpan is a small company, but not tiny and little known. It has a market capitalisation of US$706.72m, which means it would be on the radar of intstitutional investors. It has a relatively high beta, which is not unusual among small-cap stocks. Because it takes less capital to move the share price of a smaller company, actively traded small-cap stocks often have a higher beta that a similar large-cap stock.

What this means for you:

Beta only tells us that the OneSpan 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. In order to fully understand whether OSPN is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as OneSpan’s financial health and performance track record. I highly recommend you dive deeper by considering the following:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for OSPN’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for OSPN’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has OSPN 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 OSPN’s historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It’s worth checking to see how OSPN measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.

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.