Factor investing

Crowding in Commodity Factor Strategies

13.April 2021

Nowadays, factor strategies are widely spread and used by practitioners, but this factor boom has given rise to some concerns. A key question is whether these strategies stay profitable once published and if they are not arbitraged away. Some strand of the literature suggests that there is a performance decay. A different view on performance decay is presented in the novel research of Kang et al. (2021), which indicates that the performance might be time-varying. Using the commodity market and premier anomalies such as momentum, basis, and value, the authors suggest a crowding in the factor strategies that predicts future performance. Crowded factors tend to underperform in future, and there is a significantly negative impact on the expected return. Moreover, the most substantial returns are connected with the least crowding activity. Therefore, the results are especially important for active factor traders.

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An Analysis of Volatility Clustering of Equity Factor Strategies

8.April 2021

Volatility clustering is a well-known effect in equity markets. In simple meaning, volatility clustering refers to a tendency of large changes in asset prices to follow large changes and small changes in asset prices to follow small changes. This interesting effect can be sometimes uncovered as one of the reasons for the functionality of some selected trading strategies. For example, low-volatility months in stock indexes (like the S&P 500 Index) are usually also months with higher performance. As volatility tends to cluster, a low volatility month in the present can signal a low volatility month with a better performance also in the future.

Based on this, we will be testing two hypotheses: (1) firstly, if there is a volatility clustering anomaly present in equity factor strategies; (2) secondly, if there is any performance pattern related to volatility.

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An Investigation of R&D Risk Premium Strategies

19.March 2021

The R&D investments represent a company’s unique expenditure, which is responsible for creating an information asymmetry about the firm’s growth potential and future prospects. In a case when market value reflects only the firm’s financial statements without taking the long-term benefits of R&D investments into consideration, the company’s stocks may be underpriced. On the other hand, the firm’s stock prices may also face overpricing. This might happen in a case when the investors judge the possible future outcomes of current R&D investment based on the past firm’s R&D success, which is not a guarantee by any means.

So, is there a premium among firms with intensive expenditures on R&D or not? If so, does R&D expenditures represent a robust risk factor, or are there any other hidden economic forces that could explain the R&D premium? This article has tried to answer these questions by revisiting and expanding the three previously conducted research papers on R&D premium.

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Retail Investment Boom, Robinhood, Passive Investing and Market Inelasticity

This week’s blog is unique compared to our previous posts. We have identified two papers that are connected, each with interesting findings and implications. One of today’s leading topics is the Robinhood platform, but not from the point of view of recent short squeezes and speculations. The Robinhood can be an interesting insight into retail investing and implications for the market. Research suggests that despite the very low share of retail investors, their power is significantly high. This seems to be caused by the inelastic market, which passive investing contributes to. Therefore, inelasticity is another crucial point.

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Does Social Media Sentiment Matter in the Pricing of U.S. Stocks?

15.March 2021

Although the models cannot entirely capture the reality, they are essential in the analysis and problem solving, and the same could be said about asset pricing models. These models had a long journey from the CAPM model to the most recent Fama French five-factor model. However, the asset pricing models still rely on fundamentals, and as we see in the practice every day, the financial markets or investors are not always rational, and prices tend to deviate from their fundamental values. Past research has already suggested that the assets are driven by both the fundamentals and sentiment. The novel research of Koeppel (2021) continues in the exploration of the hypothesis mentioned above and connects the sentiment with the factors in Fama´s and French´s methodology. The most interesting result of the research is the construction of the sentiment risk factor based on the direct search-based sentiment indicators. The data are sourced by the MarketPsych that analyze information flowing on social media. For comparison, public news is not a source of such exploitable sentiment indicator.

The sentiment score extracted from social media can be exploited to augment the Fama French five factors model. Based on the results, this addition seems to be justified. Adding the sentiment to the pure fundamental model explains more variation and reduce the alphas (intercepts). Moreover, the factor is unrelated to the well-known and established risk factors utilized in the previous asset pricing models, including the momentum. Finally, the sentiment factor seems to be outperforming several other factors, even those established as the smart beta factors.

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