Below we highlight the stocks in the S&P 500 with the highest betas compared to the index as a whole. A stock with a beta of one is perfectly correlated to the S&P 500. A stock with a beta of 1.5 is theoretically 50% more volatile than the index.
As shown below, Genworth Financial (NYSE:GNW) is currently the S&P 500 stock with the highest beta. Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) ranks second, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) ranks third. For each stock on this list, we also include its 50-day hi/lo spread, which measures the average daily difference between the stock's high and low over the last 50 days. As shown, ODP ranks first in this regard.
Many investors tend to think of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) as volatile names, when in actuality, they're less volatile than the S&P 500. Because their share prices are so high, their daily moves are measured in dollars rather than cents, giving many the impression that they're big movers. On a percentage basis, however, the daily moves for Apple and Google are nothing out of the ordinary. Both Apple and Google have betas of 0.96, and this ranks them 312th and 315th in the S&P 500. Apple's 50-day hi/lo spread is currently 3.43% (ranked 197th highest), while Google's is just 2.73% (ranked 339th). (Click to enlarge)