Managing Risk: 9 Low Beta Stocks for Your Portfolio Watchlist

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The following nine stocks have betas below 1.  Stocks that have a beta of 0 move independently of the broader financial market and a stock whose beta is exactly 1 moves in the same direction as the broader financial market.

1) Towers Watson & Co. (NYSE:TW): Its beta is 0.65.  The stock has increased 15.29% over the past 52 weeks, versus the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) 13.8% performance.  About the company: Towers Watson &  Company offers human resources and financial consulting services.  The Company manages employee benefit programs; develops attraction, retention and reward strategies; advises pension plan sponsors on investment strategies; provides strategic and financial advice to insurance and financial services companies; and offers actuarial consulting.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: Fortune Industries, Inc. (AMEX:FFI), Insperity Inc. (NSP), Korn/Ferry International (NYSE:KFY), Heidrick & Struggles (NASDAQ:HSII), CTPartners Executive (AMEX:CTP), Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ:PAYX) ManpowerGroup (NYSE:MAN), Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP), Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX), and Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI).

2) The Sherwin-Williams Company (NYSE:SHW):  Its beta is 0.65.  The stock has increased 13.82% over the past 52 weeks, versus the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) 13.8% performance.  About the company: The Sherwin-Williams Company manufactures, distributes, and sells paints, coatings, and related products.  The Company’s products are sold to professional, industrial, commercial, and retail customers primarily in North and South America.  Sherwin Williams also has additional operations in the Caribbean region, Europe and Asia.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: PPG Industries, Inc. (NYSE:PPG), The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD), Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW), The Valspar Corporation (NYSE:VAL), RPM International Inc. (NYSE:RPM), Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ:TSCO), Builders FirstSource (NASDAQ:BLDR), and Akzo Nobel N.V. (AKZOY).

3) Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY):  Its beta is 0.67.  The stock has returned -1.77% over the past 52 weeks, versus the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) 13.8% return.  Safeway, Inc. operates a retail food and drug chain in the US and Canada.  The Company also has a network of distribution, manufacturing, and food processing facilities.  Safeway’s retail operations are located in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, the Chicago metropolitan area and the Mid-Atlantic region, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR), Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFMI), SUPERVALU, Inc. (NYSE:SVU), Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:WINN), The Fresh Market Inc. (NASDAQ:TFM), Arden Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ARDNA), Ingles Markets, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMKTA), Ruddick Corporation (NYSE:RDK), and Weis Markets, Inc. (NYSE:WMK).

4) VeriSign Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN): Its beta is 0.75.  The stock has returns 37.76% over the past 52 weeks, versus the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) 13.8% return.  About the company: VeriSign, Inc. provides Internet infrastructure services needed by websites, enterprises, electronic commerce providers, and individuals to conduct electronic commerce and communications over Internet protocol networks.  The Company also provides Internet domain registration services for all .com, .net, .cc, .tv, .name and .jobs domain names.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC), Tucows Inc. (AMEX:TCX), Innodata Isogen, Inc. (NASDAQ:INOD), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), InterNAP Network Services (NASDAQ:INAP), Web.com Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:WWWW), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Neustar Inc. (NYSE:NSR), SAVVIS, Inc. (NASDAQ:SVVS), and Wave Systems Corp. (NASDAQ:WAVX).

5) Quest Software Inc. (NASDAQ:QSFT):  Its beta is 0.60.  The stock has returned 37.27% over the past 52 weeks, compared to the 13.82% return of the S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) over the same period. Quest Software, Inc. provides application and information availability software solutions.  The Company’s products enhance the performance and reliability of an organization’s e-business, packaged and custom applications, as well as enable the delivery of information across the extended enterprise.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL), IBM (NYSE:IBM), CA, Inc. (NASDAQ:CA), EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC), Compuware Corporation (NASDAQ:CPWR), BMC Software, Inc. (NYSE:MBC), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC), and VMWare, Inc. (NYSE:VMW).

6) Buckle Inc. (NYSE:BKE): Its beta is 0.92.  The stock has returned 18.09% over the past 52 weeks, compared to the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) return of 13.82%.  The Buckle, Inc. retails medium to better priced casual apparel for young men and women.  The Company currently operates retail stores in the United States under the Brass Buckle and The Buckle names.  The Buckle markets a wide selection of mostly brand name casual apparel, including denims, tops, sportswear, outerwear, accessories and shoes.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF), American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO), The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN), Pacific Sunwear of California (NASDAQ:PSUN), Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE:ARO), Zumiez, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ), The Wet Seal, Inc. (NASDAQ:WTSLA), and The Walking Co. Holdings (WALK).

7) Transatlantic Holdings Inc. (NYSE:TRH):  Its beta is 0.97.  The stock has returned -6.5% over the past year, as compared to the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) return of 13.82%.  About the company: Transatlantic Holdings, Inc. is an international reinsurance organization.  The Company’s subsidiaries provide reinsurance on a treaty and facultative basis around the world.  Transatlantic structures traditional and non-traditional programs for a full range of property and casualty products, with an emphasis on specialty risks.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: PartnerRe Ltd. (NYSE:PRE), RenaissanceRe Holdings Limited (NYSE:RNR), Aspen Insurance Holdings (NYSE:AHL), Platinum Underwriters (NYSE:PTP), Greenlight Capital Re (NASDAQ:GLRE), Montpelier Re Holdings Limited (NYSE:MRH), Maiden Holdings, Ltd. (NASDAQ:MHLD), Everest Re Group, Ltd. (NYSE:RE), and SCOR SE (SCRYY).

8) Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS):  Its beta is 0.91.  The stock has returned 11.35% over the past 52 weeks, as compared to the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) return of 13.82%.  Cintas designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs.  The Company also provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, document management, fire protection, and first aid and safety devices.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: SRI/Surgical Express (NASDAQ:STRC), G&K Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:GKSR), UniFirst Corporation (NYSE:UNF), Healthcare Services Group (NASDAQ:HCSG), Spotless Group Limited (SPT), ABM Industries, Inc. (NYSE:ABM), Berendsen PLC (BRSN), and Johnson Service Group plc (JSG).

9) Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE:ARO):  Its beta is 0.99.  The stock has returned -18.17% over the past 52 weeks, as compared to the S&P 500′s (NYSE:SPY) one-year return of 13.82%.  Aeropostale, Inc. is a mall-based retailer of casual apparel and accessories that targets young women and men in the pre-teen and teenage market.  The Company’s stores provide active-oriented, fashion basic merchandise.  Aeropostale operates stores throughout the United States.  Other companies that operate in its industry include: Pacific Sunwear (NASDAQ:PSUN), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF), Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ), American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO), The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), The Buckle, Inc. (BJE), Body Central Acquisition (NASDAQ:BODY), and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN).

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