Ben Graham Would be Proud: Fundamental Analysis Works

/Ben Graham Would be Proud: Fundamental Analysis Works

Ben Graham Would be Proud: Fundamental Analysis Works

By | 2017-08-18T17:09:26+00:00 October 15th, 2015|Value Investing Research|2 Comments

Here is an interesting working paper on the use of fundamental analysis in stock selection. The authors take a dynamic regression “machine learning-esque” approach to building out statistical fair-value Ben Graham  and David Dodd would be proud. Of course, this isn’t surprising if you’ve read our treatise on systematic value investing.

Fundamental Analysis Works

Stock prices cannot be the outcome of a rational efficient market if fundamental analysis based on public information is profitable. Our approach to fundamental analysis estimates the intrinsic fair values of stocks from the most common quarterly balance sheet and income statement items that were last reported in Compustat. Taking the view of a statistician with little knowledge of the theory of finance, we show that the most basic form of fundamental analysis yields trades with risk-adjusted returns of up to 9% per year. The trading strategy relies on convergence of market prices to their fair values. The greatest rate of convergence occurs in the month after the mispricing signal and subsequently decays to zero over the subsequent 28 months. Profits from trading are present for both large and small firms in economically significant magnitudes.

The punchline is summarized in the chart below:

  1. Balance sheet and income sheet items seem helpful in predicting future returns
  2. Turnover/activity is required to exploit the edge
fundamental indicators and signal decay

The results are hypothetical results and are NOT an indicator of future results and do NOT represent returns that any investor actually attained. Indexes are unmanaged, do not reflect management or trading fees, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information regarding the construction of these results is available upon request.

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About the Author:

Wes Gray
After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned a PhD, and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management that delivers affordable active exposures for tax-sensitive investors. Dr. Gray has published four books and a number of academic articles. Wes is a regular contributor to multiple industry outlets, to include the following: Wall Street Journal, Forbes,, and the CFA Institute. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


  1. simon sung October 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Wesley, interesting implementation of the concept. How do you go about defining ‘fair value’ in this exercise?
    I am also thinking why this fair value convergence hasn’t at least partially captured by the HML factor?

    Would be interesting to see the time series return of the HML factor vs this fair value convergence factor.

  2. mellony spark November 4, 2015 at 5:20 am

    Interesting… why, do you think, the resurgences in Alpha at the half-yearly marks? Is that “real” signal or an artifact?

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