Portfolio Risks and Returns - Stock Risks

Types of Risks
Here are some risks associated with investing in the stock markets:

  • Systematic risk - also known as market risk, this is the potential for the entire market to decline. Systematic risk cannot be diversified away.

  • Unsystematic risk - the risk that any one stock may go down in value, independent of the stock market as a whole. This risk may be minimized through diversification. This also incorporates business risk and event risk, as described in the "Bond Risks" section.

  • Other risks - opportunity risk and liquidity risk (as described in the "Bond Risks" section) may also apply to stocks in a portfolio.

Quantitative Analysis
One of the concepts used in risk and return calculations is standard deviation, which measures the dispersion of actual returns around the expected return of an investment. Since standard deviation is the square root of the variance, this is another crucial concept to know. The variance is calculated by weighting each possible dispersion by its relative probability (take the difference between the actual return and the expected return, then square the number).

The standard deviation of an investment's expected return is considered a basic measure of risk. If two potential investments had the same expected return, the one with the lower standard deviation would be considered to have less potential risk.

Standard deviation takes into account both systematic risk and unsystematic risk and is considered to be a measure of an investment's total risk.

Risk measures
There are three other risk measures used to predict volatility and return:

  • Beta - measures stock-price volatility based solely on general market movements. Beta is a relative measure of systematic risk. Typically, the market as a whole is assigned a beta of 1.0. So, a stock or a portfolio with a beta higher than 1.0 is predicted to have a higher risk, and potentially, a higher return than the market. Conversely, if a stock (or fund) had a beta of 0.85, this would indicate that if the market increased by 10%, this stock (or fund) would likely return only 8.5%. However, if the market dropped 10%, this stock would likely drop only 8.5%.

  • Alpha - measures stock-price volatility based on the specific characteristics of the particular security. As with beta, the higher the number, the higher the risk.

  • Sharpe ratio - a more complex measure that uses the standard deviation of a stock or portfolio to measure volatility. It is a measure of risk-adjusted return. This calculation measures the incremental reward of assuming incremental risk. The larger the Sharpe ratio, the greater the potential return. The formula is: Sharpe Ratio = (total return minus the risk-free rate of return) divided by the standard deviation of the portfolio.

Look Out!
Of course, the reverse of "the larger the Sharpe ratio, the greater the return," is that the lower the ratio, the lower the potential return. If a security\'s Sharpe ratio were equal to "0", there would be no reward for taking on the higher risk, and the investor would be better off simply holding Treasuries (whose return is equal to the risk-free return component of the equation).

Risk-Reduction Strategies for Stocks
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Career Advice: Financial Analyst Vs. Investment Banker

    Read an in-depth comparison about working as a Financial Analyst vs. working as an Investment Banker, two highly prestigious business careers.
  2. Professionals

    Who Needs to Take the Series 65?

    Most states require individuals to pass the Series 65 exam in order to act as investment advisors.
  3. Personal Finance

    RIAs and Brokers: What's the Difference?

    RIAs and brokers are held to different standards when providing investment advice. Here's how they differ.
  4. Investing Basics

    Brokers and RIAs: One and the Same?

    Brokers and registered investment advisors have some key differences. Here's what you need to know.
  5. Professionals

    Understanding Series 6

    Upon successful completion of the Series 6, an individual will have the qualifications needed to sell open end mutual funds and variable annuities
  6. Professionals

    Top Strategies on How to Become a Stock Broker

    Gunning to be a stock broker and want an edge? Here's some veteran advice.
  7. Trading Systems & Software

    Steps to Starting Up an Independent Broker Dealer

    Launching your own broker-dealer is a lot of work, but the potential payoff is great, both personally and financially.
  8. Professionals

    Understanding Series 63

    Series 63 is a securities license that entitles the holder to sell securities in a particular state.
  9. Professionals

    How To Answer Option Questions On The Series 7 Exam

    Learn how to answer option questions on the Series 7 exam. Pass your Series 7 exam with the help of these tips.
  10. Insurance

    Municipal Bond Tips For The Series 7 Exam

    Learn to distinguish between general obligation and revenue bonds to ace this test.
  1. Series 6

    A securities license entitling the holder to register as a limited ...
  2. Series 79

    A examination to ensure a candidate is qualified to become a ...
  3. Research Analyst

    A person who prepares investigative reports on equity securities. ...
  4. Series 34

    An exam required for individuals seeking to engage in off-exchange ...
  5. Financial Advisor

    One who provides financial advice or guidance to customers for ...
  6. Series 28

    An exam given by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ...
  1. Is a financial advisor required to have a degree?

    Financial advisors are not required to have university degrees. However, they are required to pass certain exams administered ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors have to be licensed?

    Financial advisors must possess various securities licenses in order to sell investment products. The specific products an ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can I use my IRA to pay for my college loans?

    If you are older than 59.5 and have been contributing to your IRA for more than five years, you may withdraw funds to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    If you are over 59.5, or separate from your plan-sponsoring employer after age 55, you are free to use your 401(k) to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. If I have only a limited amount of time to study for the Series 6, what should I ...

    The Series 6 Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative Qualification Examination is administered ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What role does the 'chip cycle' play in the electronics sector?

    There are several highly acclaimed private Series 6 Exam courses in the United States. Many can be completed online. Popular ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center