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Clean Harbors, Inc. (NYSE:CLH): What Does Its Beta Value Mean For Your Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

If you're interested in Clean Harbors, Inc. (NYSE:CLH), 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 sort is caused by the natural volatility of markets, overall. For example, certain macroeconomic events will impact (virtually) all stocks on the market.

Some stocks are more sensitive to general market forces than others. 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.

View our latest analysis for Clean Harbors

What CLH's beta value tells investors

Given that it has a beta of 1.57, we can surmise that the Clean Harbors share price has been fairly sensitive to market volatility (over the last 5 years). Based on this history, investors should be aware that Clean Harbors 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 Clean Harbors's revenue and earnings in the image below.

NYSE:CLH Income Statement, September 28th 2019

Could CLH's size cause it to be more volatile?

Clean Harbors is a fairly large company. It has a market capitalisation of US$4.3b, which means it is probably on the radar of most investors. It takes deep pocketed investors to influence the share price of a large company, so it's a little unusual to see companies this size with high beta values. It may be that that this company is more heavily impacted by broader economic factors than most.

What this means for you:

Since Clean Harbors has a reasonably high beta, it's worth considering why it is so heavily influenced by broader market sentiment. For example, it might be a high growth stock or have a lot of operating leverage in its business model. In order to fully understand whether CLH is a good investment for you, we also need to consider important company-specific fundamentals such as Clean Harbors’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 CLH’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CLH’s outlook.
  2. Past Track Record: Has CLH 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 CLH's historicals for more clarity.
  3. Other Interesting Stocks: It's worth checking to see how CLH measures up against other companies on valuation. You could start with this free list of prospective options.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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.