Beta and its Characteristics. [ Beta ] – In finance, the beta (β or beta coefficient) of an investment indicates whether the investment is more or less volatile than the market. In general, a beta less than 1 indicates that the investment is less volatile than the market, while a beta of more than 1 indicates that the investment is more volatile than the market. Volatility is measured as the fluctuation of the price around the mean: the standard deviation.
Beta and its Characteristics
Characteristics of Beta
Here is a basic guide to various betas:
A beta less than 0, which would indicate an inverse relation to the market- is possible but highly unlikely. However, some investors believe that gold and gold stocks should have negative betas because they tended to do better when the stock market declines.
Beta of 0:
Basically, cash has a beta of 0. In other words, regardless of which way the market moves, the value of cash remains unchanged (given no inflation).
Beta between 0 and 1 :
Companies with volatilities lower than the market have a beta of less than 1 (but more than 0). As we mentioned earlier, many utilities fall in this range.
Beta of 1 :
A beta of 1 represents the volatility of the given index used to represent the overall market, against which other stocks and their betas are measured. The S&P 500 is such an index. If a stock has a beta of one, it will move the same amount and direction as the index. So, an index fund that mirrors the S&P 500 will have a beta close to 1.
Beta greater than 1 :
This denotes a volatility that is greater than the broad-based index. Again, as we mentioned above, many technology companies on the Nasdaq have a beta higher than 1.
Beta greater than 100 :
This is impossible as it essentially denotes a volatility that is 100 times greater than the market. If a stock had a beta of 100, it would be expected to go to 0 on any decline in the stock market. If you ever see a beta of over 100 on a research site it is usually the result of a statistical error, or the given stock has experienced large swings due to low liquidity, such as an over-the-counter stock. For the most part, stocks of well- known companies rarely ever have a beta higher than 4.