Fund Flows of Active Funds Significantly Affect Value and Size Factors

A new academic paper related to:

#25 – Size Factor
#26 – Value (Book-to-Market) Factor

Authors: Hung, Song, Xiang

Title: Fragile Factor Premia



We demonstrate that returns and volatilities of the Fama-French size and value factors are significantly determined by non-fundamental flow-induced trading from actively managed equity mutual funds. Mutual fund flows are largely ignorant about systematic risks. These non-fundamental shifts in demand induce large return heterogeneity within and across the Fama-French size and book-to-market portfolios. We show that aggregate mutual fund flow- induced trades across the size and book-to-market spectrum significantly influence the size and value premia, followed by large subsequent reversals. We also find that the expected volatilities of mutual funds’ flow-induced trades strongly predict future factor volatilities. Our results highlight the importance of non-fundamental demand shocks in determining factor premia and factor volatilities.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

“Mutual fund trading has a considerable price impact on individual stocks. However, some more recent work suggests that mutual fund investors are largely ignorant about systematic risks, when allocating capitals among mutual funds. Empirically, it remains unclear how trades induced by the non-fundamental mutual fund flows impact returns and volatilities of size and value, the two prominent factors. This paper aims to fi ll this gap.

In our study, we use a bottom-up approach and estimate mutual fund flow-induced trading (FIT) for each stock-quarter from 1980 to 2017. In a nutshell, FIT measures the magnitude of flow-driven trading by the aggregate equity mutual fund industry on a particular stock in a given quarter. We use FIT rather than the entire realized trading of mutual funds because FIT only captures those trades that are driven by the demand shifts from mutual fund investors, which are largely ignorant about fundamentals

Fund flows

Our main fi ndings are as follows.

We fi nd that returns of the six FF size and book-to-market portfolios are largely determined by the uninformed mutual fund flow-induced trades. Within each of the six FF portfolios, stocks with higher FIT have higher return performance.

Mutual funds’ flow-driven trades can even revert the positive size and value premia. That is, within the same book-to-market portfolios, we find large-cap stocks with above-median FIT outperform small-cap stocks with below-median FIT. Within the same size portfolios, growth stocks with above-median FIT outperform value stocks with below-median FIT.

Value & Size Factor

We decompose the value minus growth returns (HML) into two components: (i) value-inflow minus growth-outflow returns (HMLInflow) and (ii) value-outflow minus growth-inflow (HMLOutflow). We decompose the small minus big returns (SMB) into the sum of (i) small-inflow minus big-outflow returns (SMBInflow) and (ii) small-outflow minus big-inflow returns (SMBOutflow). Figure 2 report the average monthly returns and alphas of SMB, HML, and their inflow and outflow components.

In sum, we find that the size premium is due to the component of small-inflow stocks minus big-outflow stocks, while the value premium is due to the component of value-inflow stocks minus growth-outflow stocks.”

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