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Mastering Alpha: The Secret Weapon for Smart Investing


What is alpha

 What is Alpha In Finance and How Does It Help in Investing?

Is it simple to invest? 

Unfortunately, there are numerous terms to learn, it is time-consuming, and you may not be able to make a profit even after you have applied multiple methods. 

You have probably heard these words about investing from friends, colleagues, or relatives. But unfortunately, people have formed misconceived notions about investing and tend to judge it solely based on these beliefs.

However, this is not the case. Investing is not tricky; understanding a few terms will be as easy as walking on the moon. Of course, you want to become a pro in a few days, but only practice and patience will bring you there.

In this blog, we will discuss one of the key terms used to assess risk in trading and to invest. The term is known as 'Alpha.' Yes, you have probably read it in your math textbook, but it's not that alpha. Alpha has different meanings and is used differently in the finance or investment world. Continue reading to find out the implementation of the alpha method in investing.

What exactly is Alpha?

Alpha is a term that describes an investment strategy that outperforms the market. Simply put, it allows you to compare the performance of your portfolio to a specific benchmark.

The alpha value can be positive or negative depending on market volatility and your prediction over the years. The term also aids in determining the fund manager's performance. It gives you a good idea of whether or not your fund manager is implementing proper strategies while making investment decisions for your portfolio.

Alpha is one of five risk ratios used to determine risk in mutual funds and trading. It assists investors in determining the risk-reward ratio in their portfolio as well as the performance of the fund manager. As a result, when investing in mutual funds or stocks, it is essential to check alpha.


How Does Alpha Works In Investing?

Five popular risk ratios to measure the risk of your mutual fund investment are beta, alpha, r-square, standard deviation, and Sharpe ratio. All of these risk ratios assist investors in calculating the risk and return on investment.

In the context of beta, the term alpha is frequently used. However, to understand the work of the alpha method in investing, you must first understand the basics of beta.

Beta is used to forecast the return on your trading and investment over the years. Essentially, it assists you in establishing a benchmark for profit or loss for your mutual fund and stock investment.

It is considered that stocks with beta values of 1.0 or less are less risky and generate adequate returns. In contrast, when the situation reverses and the beta of a specific stock rises above 1.0, the stock becomes riskier.

Alpha is the value obtained after deducting the beta value from the total value of your investment. The difference between the two values is known as alpha. For example, if you predict that the beta value of some stocks following the particular calculation will be 10% after a certain period, but the actual value you get of that specific stock is 12%, the difference of 2% is considered the alpha value.

If this value is positive, it simply indicates that you or your fund manager are implementing a proper strategy; however, if the alpha value is negative, it suggests that the methods are incorrect and that you should work on them.

This is how you can calculate and change your strategies with alpha to generate an adequate return on your investment.

 What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Alpha Value

There are several advantages of Alpha Value. Some common advantages are 

mention below:

  • Alpha can quickly assist you in determining the risk of your return on investment.

  • It helps provide a general idea of the effectiveness of the strategies you are implementing. 

  • It can help you assess your market entry and exit points while trading and investing. As a result, alpha can be a helpful tool in many ways while investing in stocks.

Even though this technique is widely accepted and used by investors, there is some debate about its accuracy among investors. Let's look at the disadvantages of the Alpha Value.

  • According to the efficient market hypothesis (EHM), this technique prices all securities simultaneously, making it impossible for investors to evaluate profit and identify mispricing. 

  • According to this EHM theory, the alpha failed to outperform the market.

  • Alpha has limitations in calculating the risk of an investment, and it is not beneficial to compare different asset classes.

Example of Alpha in Investing

We have already discussed the basic calculation of the alpha, but in this section, we will go over it in considerable detail with an example.

The capital assets pricing model, also known as the CAPM, is commonly used to calculate alpha. This method can provide you with more information about the performance of your portfolio. To calculate the risk premium, subtract the risk-free rate of return (ROR) from the speculative return and then subtract the value from the stock's beta value.

The value obtained from the following calculation must be multiplied by the market return (benchmark) minus the risk-free rate of return. The following calculation will be looking in a formula like this:

Alpha = Portfolio Return – Risk-Free Return ROR – Beta * (Benchmark Return – Risk-Free Return ROR)

Assume that the return on a specific stock after a year is 13%, the risk-free rate of return is 11%, the beta value is 1.2, and the market return (Benchmark) is 12%. Then, the alpha value will be calculated as 13 - 11 - 1.2 * (12 – 11).

When you perform this calculation, you will obtain an alpha value of 0.8%. Because the value of alpha you receive is positive, it indicates that your stock is performing well and has the potential to outperform the market. Conversely, if the value is negative, such as -0.8, your investment strategy needs to be revised.

Always remember that because alpha is affected by beta value, it is subject to change. If the beta value of a particular stock changes in the future due to market volatility, the alpha value will also change.

 Bottom Line

The alpha techniques assist you in calculating the risk of your portfolio and the fund manager's performance. However, you should be aware of some limitations to this method and act accordingly. In addition, investing in the market is never about finding a one-size-fits-all formula; instead, it is all about trying and learning. Thus, keep experimenting with different methods and attempting to make decisions that benefit your portfolio.

You can get more information about different and valuable methods of investing from Agarwal Corporate, which offers superior investment services to its clients.

What are your thoughts on how much the alpha technique benefits investing? Write your thoughts in the comments section to start a healthy discussion about the alpha method.

Frequently Asked Questions


Yes, a negative alpha indicates that your investment isn't doing well and you might not get the return you are hoping for.



While negative alpha has the opposite effect on your investment, positive alpha is always a favourable sign. A rating of 1.0 for alpha indicates that your investment is doing well.



One element is never enough to predict a stock's performance in the stock market. To predict how the stock will perform, you must always consider a number of variables.


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