Are Small Caps Less Risky Than You Think?

Here’s a thing I like about small companies. In many cases, the people who run them aren’t just executives — they’re proprietors who took massive risks to build what exists today and who run themselves ragged to make sure that what does exist will be even better in the future. While I’ve met hundreds of extremely competent, dedicated executives over the years, there’s just something different about the person who scratch-built a company. To him or her, there is no such thing as a better employment offer around the bend. There’s no such thing as down time, or weekends, or even hobbies. This company is it. There’s no pushing ideas through some big committee. That person is the committee.

Maybe those kinds of companies sound a little risky to you. After all, doesn’t classic finance hold that, all else being equal, the smaller a company is, the riskier it is? Well, yes, on a company-by-company basis, those with smaller market capitalizations are riskier in terms of volatility and potential for total loss.

I believe, all else being equal, that this is insane in the aggregate. There is no reason that a portfolio of well-researched, quality small-cap companies should be riskier than one consisting of large-cap companies.