ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Knowledge guide to beta values

Beta values (often described as 'Beta coefficients' or 'Beta relatives') are used by some investors to measure the movement of a share and to help assess the risk involved when putting together an investment portfolio.

What's on this page?

  • Calculating and interpreting Beta values
  • Publications with Beta values
  • Databases with Beta values
  • Further sources

Calculating and interpreting Beta values

The value of beta is calculated using historical share price and market index data, which indicates the past sensitivity of a share to market falls and rises.

The book How to use Company Refs by Jim Slater gives the following advice for interpreting a value: "The market's Beta coefficient is 1; shares with a Beta larger than 1 are more volatile than the market and shares with Beta of under one are less risky."

Our collection includes a number of articles and books on stock market investment which explain Beta values in greater depth. An introduction to stock exchange investment by Janette Rutterford includes a section explaining how the beta values from the Risk Measurement Service can be used to analyse portfolio performance.

Sources for Beta values

Beta values are published in a number of company directories using a variety of formulas, values and reference share indices. It is inadvisable to make comparisons between sources without first establishing the degree of difference in the way these values have been compiled.

The Library enquiry service can only provide Beta values to qualified users. Non-qualified users can consult our resources in person on payment of our daily access fee - see who can use the Library for further details.

Company REFs

Company REFs is a quarterly publication which gives Beta Relative figures for fully listed companies (FTSE100, 250, 350, SmallCap, All-Share, Fledgling and All-Small) and AIM listed companies. The Library holds the latest print edition.

Risk Measurement Service (LBS)

The London Business School publish the quarterly Risk Measurement Service which provides Beta values, various risk measures and other key data for 3,000 UK shares, including every UK stock with a full listing on the London Stock Exchange and all AIM listed stocks.

The Library holds the print edition of the Risk Measurement Service from 2008 onwards.

Financial Analysis Made Easy (FAME)

The FAME database from Bureau van Dijk (BVD) includes Beta values for most, but not all, publicly listed companies. The database provides the option to view Beta values for an individual company or for a range of companies.

The formula used by BVD to calculate the the Beta value is explained in the FAME user guide (see Security and price information: Beta).

Members and students can access FAME within the Library

To view the data on Beta values for an individual company using FAME

1. Select the company using the Search options in FAME.
2. Use the Company report option to load the standard report.
3. Use the Stock data: security and price information and Weekly pricing series options to view the data available.

To view the data on Beta values for a range of companies using FAME

1. Select a range of companies using the Search options in FAME.
2. Use the List option to view the list of companies.
3. Use the format options for beta values (listed under Stock data) to display the Beta values, correlation coefficients and reference index that you require.

The Library enquiry team can also search the FAME database on behalf of members and students.

Financial Times

The FT website includes Beta values for equities listed on its Companies research page. The Global equity screener allows users to identify companies based on a range of criteria, including Beta values.

Can't find what you are looking for?

If you're having trouble finding the information you need, ask the Library & Information Service. Contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by fax on +44 (0)20 7920 8621 or by email at library@icaew.com.

ICAEW accepts no responsibility for the content on any site to which a hypertext link from this site exists. The links are provided ‘as is’ with no warranty, express or implied, for the information provided within them. Please see the full copyright and disclaimer notice.