Stock picking

Media Attention and the Low Volatility Effect

18.August 2019

The low volatility factor is a well-known example of a stock trading strategy that contradicts the classical CAPM model. A lot of researchers are trying to come up with an explanation for driving forces behind the volatility effect. One such popular explanation is the ‘attention-grabbing’ hypothesis – which suggests that low-volatility stocks are ‘boring’ and therefore require a premium relative to ‘glittering’ stocks that receive a lot of investor attention. Research paper written by Blitz, Huisman, Swinkels and van Vliet tests this theory and concludes that ‘attention-grabbing’ hypothesis can't be used to explain outperformance of low volatility stocks.

Related to: #7 – Low Volatility Factor Effect in Stocks

Authors: Blitz, Huisman, Swinkels, van Vliet

Title: Media Attention and the Volatility Effect

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Three New Insights from Academic Research Related to Equity Momentum Strategy

4.August 2019

What are the main insights?

– the momentum spread (the difference of the formation-period recent 6-month returns between winners and losers) negatively predicts future momentum profit in the long-term (but not in the following month), the negative predictability is mainly driven by the old momentum spread (old momentum stocks are based on whether a stock has been identified as a momentum stock for more than three months)

– the momentum profits based on total stock returns can be decomposed into three components: a long-term average alpha component that reverses, a stock beta component that accounts for the dynamic market exposure (and momentum crash risk), and a residual return component that drives the momentum effect (and subsumes total-return momentum)

– the profitability and the optimal combination of ranking and holding periods of momentum strategies for a sample of Core and Peripheral European equity markets the profitability vary across markets

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Two Versions of CAPM

19.July 2019

This week's analysis of selected financial research paper contains more text and no picture, but we still think it's worth reading …

Authors: Siddiqi

Title: CAPM: A Tale of Two Versions

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3350280

Abstract:

Given that categorization is the core of cognition, we argue that investors do not view firms in isolation. Rather, they view them within a framework of categories that represent prior knowledge. This involves sorting a given firm into a category and using categorization-induced inferences to form earnings and discount-rate expectations. If earnings-aspect is categorization-relevant, then earnings estimates are refined, whereas discount-rates are confounded with the category-exemplar. The opposite happens when discount-rates are categorization relevant. Earnings-focused approach such as DCF, generally used by institutional investors, leads to a version of CAPM in which the relationship between average excess return and stock beta is flat (possibly negative). Value effect and size premium (controlling for quality) arise in this version. Discount-rate focused approach such as multiples or comparables valuation, typically used by individual investors, leads to a second version in which the relationship is strongly positive with growth stocks doing better. The two-version CAPM accounts for several recent empirical findings including fundamentally different intraday vs overnight behavior, as well as behavior on macroeconomic announcement days. Momentum is expected to be an overnight phenomenon, which is consistent with empirical findings. We argue that, perhaps, our best shot at observing classical CAPM in its full glory is a laboratory experiment with subjects who have difficulty categorizing (such as in autism spectrum disorders).

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"Consider the following two empirical observations:

Firstly, stock prices behave very differently with respect to their sensitivity to market risk (beta) at specific times. Typically, average excess return and beta relationship is flatter than expected. It could even be negative. However, during specific times, this relationship is strongly positive, such as on days when macroeconomic announcements are made or during the night.

Secondly, a hue, which is halfway between yellow and orange, is seen as yellow on a banana and orange on a carrot. In this article, we argue that the two observations are driven by the same underlying mechanism.

The second observation is an example of the implications of categorization for color calibration. In this article, we argue that the first observation is also due to categorization, which gives rise to two versions of CAPM. In one version, the relationship between expected return and stock beta is flatter than expected or could even be negative, whereas in the second version, this relationship is strongly positive.

Categorization is the mental operation by which brain classifies objects and events. We do not experience the world as a series of unique events. Rather, we make sense of our experiences within a framework of categories that represent prior knowledge. That is, new information is only understood in the context of prior knowledge.

Here, in accord with cognitive science literature, we present a view of categorization that has both an upside as well as a downside, and apply this nuanced perspective to the capital asset pricing model (CAPM). If categorization is fundamental to how our brains make sense of information, then investor behavior, like any other domain of human behaviour, should also be viewed through this lens. This means that the traditional view that each firm is viewed in isolation needs to be altered. When an investor considers a firm, she views it within a framework of categories that represent prior knowledge. This involves sorting a given firm into a category based on attributes that are deemed categorization-relevant. Categorization-induced inferences help refine such attributes while confounding categorization-irrelevant attributes with the category-exemplar.

Valuation requires estimating earnings (cash-flows) potential and estimating discount-rates. Even among firms that sell similar products (same sector) some may have more similar earnings potential, whereas other may have more similar discount-rates. The former type may include firms with similar earnings-related fundamentals but very different levels of debt ratio and equity betas. Also, their multiples (generally related to inverse of the discount-rate) such as P/E, EV/Sales or EV/EBITDA could be very different. The latter type may include firms with similar debt ratios and equity betas or similar P/E and EV/EBITDA but quite different earnings or cash-flows fundamentals.

We argue that, an earnings-focused approach, such as discounted cash-flows (DCF), tends to categorize the former type of firms together, whereas, the relative valuation approach (RV) based on multiples such as P/E or EV/EBITDA tends to categorize the latter types of firms together. In other words, the choice of a valuation approach introduces a bias in how firms are categorized.

In this paper, we take discounted cash-flows (DCF) as the prototype of an earnings-potential focused approach, and valuation by multiples or relative valuation (RV) as the prototype discount-rate focused approach.

We show that when earnings aspect is categorization-relevant (as in DCF analysis), a version of CAPM is obtained, which displays a flatter or even negative relationship between stock beta and expected excess returns. Betting-against-beta anomaly is observed along with the value effect, as well as the size premium after controlling for quality (consistent with the findings in Asness et al 2018). We argue that this is the default version which typically prevails. While categorizing firms, if investors are focused on the discount rate aspect (as in RV analysis), then the discount-rates are refined whereas earnings estimates are confounded with the category-exemplar. A second version of CAPM arises. In this version, there is a strong positive relationship between beta and expected excess return.

One way to make sense of the co-existence of two versions is to classify investors as either earnings-focused or discount rate-focused. If earnings-focused investors dominate, then the first version is observed. If the discount-rate-focused investors dominate, then the second version is observed. Note, that earnings-focused approach (such as DCF) is typically employed by large institutional investors, whereas RV approach is associated with individual investors (and with sell-side equity analysts who publish research reports for individual investors).

If institutional investors are earnings-focused and individual investors are discount rate-focused, then the trading behavior of each type can be observed to make specific predictions:

1) Institutional investors typically avoid trading at the open and prefer to trade in the afternoon near the market close. The objective is to time the trade when the market is most liquid to avoid any adverse price impact. This means that trade at open is dominated by individual investors. So, one expects to see the relationship between stock beta and average return to be strongly positive (second version) overnight and flat or even negative (first version) intraday.

2) Institutional traders typically trade in the right direction prior to macroeconomic announcement days (suggesting superior information) with institutional trading volume falling sharply on macro-announcement days. As trade on such days is dominated by individual investors, one expects to see a strongly positive relationship (second version) on macro-announcement days.

3) The first version generally dominates intraday due to institutional investors being dominant. As the corresponding CAPM version comes with size and value effects, the prediction is that size and value are primarily intraday phenomena.

4) We show that, all else equal, discount rate-focused investors have higher willingness-to-pay than earnings-focused investors. If discount rate-focused investors dominate trade at open, whereas earnings-focused investors are active intraday, then one expects prices to typically rise overnight from close-to-open and fall intraday between open-to-close.

5) If momentum traders, who buy past winners and short past losers, are primarily individual investors, then one expects momentum to be an overnight phenomenon observed between close-to-open. This is because individual traders dominate trade at or near open.

"


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50 Years in PEAD (Post Earnings Announcement Drift) Research

5.July 2019

A new research paper related to:

#33 – Post-Earnings Announcement Effect

Authors: Sojka

Title: 50 Years in PEAD Research

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3281679

Abstract:

Analysing earning’s predictive power on stock returns was in the heart of academic research since late 60’s. First introduced to academic world in 1967 during seminar “Analysis of Security Prices” by Chicago University Professors Ray Ball and Philip Brown. In the next four decades was extensively analysed by many academics and is now a well-documented anomaly and is referred to as Post Earnings Announcement Drift (PEAD). This phenomenon is still at the centre of academic research because it stands at odds with efficient market hypothesis which assumes that all information is instantaneously reflected in stock prices. Professional investors are also closely looking at PEAD as it implies that it is easy to beat the market average by simply ranking stocks based on their earnings surprise and investing in the top decile, quintile or quartile and shorting the bottom part. Academic evidence shows that this strategy produces an abnormal return of somewhere between 2.6% and 9.37% per quarter, according to various authors. In this paper I will present existing evidence supporting and contradicting “PEAD”, the history of academic research in that field and various techniques used to verify the phenomenon. The paper is organised as follows: first the history of the PEAD academic research is presented, in the second more recent evidence and research techniques used by authors are presented and finally conclusions and various critics of PEAD are shown.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"Post Earnings Announcement Drift is a measure of markets inability to price correctly information contained in earnings report. Since it was first spotted by Ball and Brown (1968), it went through rigorous academic scrutiny, first to test if it really exists (Ball (1978), Latane and Jones (1977)), then to measure its magnitude in various time frames, to offer explanations for its existence and find more PEAD variations. On average academics found that the postponed response to earnings information produces about 6% abnormal 60 days return (Dechow et al (2013)). The whole market reaction attributed to earnings report, measured from 60 days prior to earnings release to 60 days after is estimated at 18%, which means that about a third of the whole market response is delayed – Dechow et al (2013).

Figure 18 presents cumulative PEAD strategy abnormal returns for a 40-years period from 1971 to 2011. The total abnormal return of the strategy is an astonishing 350%, which is beat only by BTM (Book-to-Market) strategy. PEAD profits are very consistent up to late 90’s, then we can observe dips in the abnormal returns during internet bubble (1991-2001) and then during market recovery after 2008 crash. Since the middle of the 90’s PEAD returns became riskier and much lower than in the previous 25 years, it may be attributed to wider academic research in the field and wider recognition of the phenomenon among investors.

PEAD strategy chart

The PEAD strategy is not easy to implement in practice as it requires large scale data collection and data processing, more recent advancements in information processing technologies may also affect the magnitude of PEAD exploitation. A dominant part of research on PEAD was conducted in the US and based on US stock market data. The magnitude of PEAD computed by academics across time, since 1968 when first academic paper mentioning PEAD was published, up to the most recent evidence, are shown in Table 26.

Summary of PEAD tests

PEAD premium computed based on US market data by academics is not easily comparable. There are differences in period studied, subset of stocks used, definitions of expected earnings or unexpected earnings signal altogether. Among the results presented in Table 26, the highest return 14.03% in 120 days presented by Balakrishnan et al (2009) and the lowest is Chordia and Shivakumar (2005) 0.9% in 1 month. Both of those research papers confirm PEAD premium existence, but Chordia and Shivakumar (2005) focus their attention on explaining joint anomalies of momentum and PEAD, and form portfolios each month regardless of profit announcement date, taking last announced earnings in their SUE ranking, which obviously weakens the earnings signal."


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Equity Momentum in Years 1820-1930

10.June 2019

Once again, our favorite type of study – an out of sample research study based on data from 19th and beginning of 20th century.  Interesting research paper related to all equity momentum strategies …

Authors: Trigilia, Wang

Title: Momentum, Echo and Predictability: Evidence from the London Stock Exchange (1820-1930)

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3373164

Abstract:

We study momentum and its predictability within equities listed at the London Stock Exchange (1820-1930). At the time, this was the largest and most liquid stock market and it was thinly regulated, making for a good laboratory to perform out-of-sample tests. Cross-sectionally, we find that the size and market factors are highly profitable, while long-term reversals are not. Momentum is the most profitable and volatile factor. Its returns resemble an echo: they are high in long-term formation portfolios, and vanish in short-term ones. We uncover momentum in dividends as well. When controlling for dividend momentum, price momentum loses significance and profitability. In the time-series, despite the presence of a few momentum crashes, dynamically hedged portfolios do not improve the performance of static momentum. We conclude that momentum returns are not predictable in our sample, which casts some doubt on the success of dynamic hedging strategies.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"This paper studies momentum and its predictability in the context of the rst modern stock market, the London Stock Exchange (LSE), from the 1820s to the 1920s.

Factors' performance. Compared to the U.S. post-1926, we find that the market has been less profi table – averaging 5% annually (but also less volatile). Its Sharpe ratio has been 0.34, not too far from the 0.43 of CRSP. The Small-Minus-Big (SMB) factor delivered a 4.85% average annual return, much higher than that found in U.S. post-1926. The risk-free rate, as proxied by the interest on British Government's consols, has been close to 3.3% throughout the period, despite the many large changes in supply (i.e., in the outstanding stock of public debt). As for momentum (UMD), consistent with the existing evidence it has been the most profi table factor – with an average annual return close to 9% – and the most volatile – with 20% annual standard deviation.

Momentum in years 1820-1930

Dissecting momentum returns. Recent literature debates whether momentum is long or short term. In our sample, UMD profi ts strongly depend on the formation period: they average at 10.6% annually for long-term formation (12 to 7 months) and 3.8% for short-term formation (6 to 2 months). So, our out-of-sample test confi rms that momentum is better described as a within-year echo.

To investigate the role of fundamentals as drivers of price momentum, we construct two sets of earnings momentum portfolio. The first earnings momentum portfolio is constructed based on the past dividend paid by the firm relative to its market cap. The portfolio buys stocks of the highest dividend-paying firms over a 12 to 2 months formation period, and shorts the stocks of the lowest ones. We find strong evidence that our dividend momentum (DIV) strategy is pro fitable across our sample: it yields a 5% average annual return with a standard deviation of 12%.

The second earnings momentum portfolio is constructed based on the dividend innovations. Speci cally, we look at the change of dividend year to year, and construct the DIV portfolio. The portfolio buys stocks with the highest change in dividend paid and shorts the stocks with the lowest ones. The DIV portfolio yield an over 24% return with a standard deviation of only 13.2%.

To discern whether price momentum seems driven by dividend momentum, we also test whether the alpha of the static UMD portfolio remains signi ficant and positive after we control for the Fama-French three factors plus the dividend momentum portfolio. In the EW sample, price momentum delivers excess returns of about 8.8% after controlling for the Fama-French three factors, signifi cant at the 1%. However, introducing DIV momentum reduces the alpha to 2.9%, and the alpha is insigni ficantly di fferent from zero. As for VW portfolios, they deliver higher alphas but are less precisely estimated. In this case, the annualized alpha of price momentum drops by half from 11.2% to 5.8% after controlling for DIV momentum.

Momentum crashes. We find that the distribution of monthly momentum returns is left skewed and displays excess kurtosis. Within the five largest EW (VW) momentum crashes, investors lost 18% (26%) on average. The difference between the beta of the winners and that of the losers has been -2.4 (-3.5), on average, and the losses stemmed mostly from the performance of the losers, which averaged at 24% (21%) monthly return. We find little action in the winners portfolio, which returned on average 2% (-6%).

Predictability and dynamic hedging. Dynamic hedging consists in levering the portfolio when its realized volatility has been low and/or the market has been under-performing, and de-levering otherwise. We begin our analysis by looking at whether set of variables helps predicting momentum returns in our sample, and we find that it does not. Probably, this is because the crashes in our sample are more heterogeneous both in terms of origins and in terms of length. In particular, they do not necessarily occur when the market rebounds after a long downturn, and they tend to last for shorter periods of time. As a consequence, our out-of-sample test of the dynamic hedged UMD strategy shows that either it underperforms static momentum, or it does not improve its returns.

"


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Case Study: Quantpedia’s Composite Seasonal / Calendar Strategy

26.April 2019

Despite the fact that the economic theory states that financial markets are efficient and investors are rational, a large amount of research is about anomalies, where the result is different from the theoretical expectation. At Quantpedia, we deal with anomalies in the financial markets and we have identified more than 500 attractive trading systems together with hundreds of related academic papers.

This article should be a case study of some strategies that are listed in our Screener, with an aim to present a possible usage of strategies in our database. Moreover, we have extended the backtesting period and we show that the strategies are still working and have not diminished. This blog also should serve as a case study how to use the Quantpedia’s database itself; therefore the choice of strategies was not obviously random and strategies were filtered by given criteria, however, every strategy is listed in the “free“ section, and therefore no subscription is needed.

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