In conjunction with stock valuation ratios like the price-to-earnings ratio and the price-to-earnings-growth ratio, a stock's beta can help investors build a diversified portfolio. Beta is a measure of a stock's volatility, and adding low-beta stocks to a portfolio can a be a great way to provide diversification.

IN PICTURES: benchmark for beta, investors can determine how a stock may perform in relation to a broad index. If a stock has a beta of 1, it is expected to move up and down in tandem with the benchmark. A stock with a beta of 1.10 is expected to rise or fall 10% more than the benchmark. Conversely, a stock with a beta of 0.80 would be expected to move up or down only 80% as much as the benchmark. In short, the higher the beta, the higher the stock's volatility.

And, by using beta to measure volatility, you can better choose securities that meet your criteria for risk. Investors who are very risk averse should put their money into investments with low betas such as blue chip stocks and Treasury bills. Those who are willing to take on more risk may want to invest in stocks with higher betas.

Here's a list of five low-beta stocks from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA):

Company Beta Market Cap (Billions)
Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) 0.31 193.9B
Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) 0.48 331.58B
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) 0.51 179.27B
Kraft (NYSE:KFT) 0.56 54.85B
McDonald\'s Corp (NYSE:MCD) 0.56 81.94B

Final Thoughts
By adding low beta stocks from the DJIA, investor gain exposure to a cross-section of industries including diversified chemicals, retail, technology, automobiles and industrial materials. The diversity is a great start, but investors should always remember to use beta as a guide to adding diversity and not as a guarantee of a stock's future price volatility. (To learn the basics of beta, read Beta: Know The Risk.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Bank Stocks: Time to Buy or Avoid? (WFC, JPM, C)

    Bank stocks have been pounded. Is this the right time to buy or should they be avoided?
  2. Stock Analysis

    Why the Bullish Are Turning Bearish

    Banks are reducing their targets for the S&P 500 for 2016. Here's why.
  3. Stock Analysis

    How to Find Quality Stocks Amid the Wreckage

    Finding companies with good earnings and hitting on all cylinders in this environment, although possible, is not easy.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Sirius XM's Return on Equity (ROE) (SIRI)

    Learn more about the Sirius XM's overall 2015 performance, return on equity performance and future predictions for the company's ROE in 2016 and beyond.
  5. Stock Analysis

    Will Virtusa Corporation's Stock Keep Chugging in 2016? (VRTU)

    Read a thorough review and analysis of Virtusa Corporation's stock looking to project how well the stock is likely to perform for investors in 2016.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Porter's Five Forces on JPMorgan Chase (JPM)

    Examine the major money-center bank holding firm, JPMorgan Chase & Company, from the perspective of Porter's five forces model for industry analysis.
  7. Investing News

    What You Can Learn from Carl Icahn's Mistakes

    Carl Icahn has been a stellar performer in the investment world for decades, but following his lead these days could be dangerous.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Dish Network's Return on Equity (ROE) (DISH, TWC)

    Analyze Dish Network's return on equity (ROE), understand why it has vacillated so greatly in recent years and learn what factors are influencing it.
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    5 Must-Have Metrics For Value Investors

    Focusing on certain fundamental metrics is the best way for value investors to cash in gains. Here are the most important metrics to know.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Altria's Return on Equity (ROE) (MO)

    Learn about Altria Group's return on equity (ROE) and analyze net profit margin, asset turnover and financial leverage to determine what is causing its high ROE.
RELATED FAQS
  1. When does a growth stock turn into a value opportunity?

    A growth stock turns into a value opportunity when it trades at a reasonable multiple of the company's earnings per share ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the formula for calculating EBITDA?

    When analyzing financial fitness, corporate accountants and investors alike closely examine a company's financial statements ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I calculate the P/E ratio of a company?

    The price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is a valuation measure that compares the level of stock prices to the level of corporate ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do you calculate return on equity (ROE)?

    Return on equity (ROE) is a ratio that provides investors insight into how efficiently a company (or more specifically, its ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do you calculate working capital?

    Working capital represents the difference between a firm’s current assets and current liabilities. The challenge can be determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the formula for calculating the current ratio?

    The current ratio is a financial ratio that investors and analysts use to examine the liquidity of a company and its ability ... Read Full Answer >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center