Academic Finance Research and Insights

Is Momentum a Separate Factor?

By |September 12th, 2022|

We find that factor momentum concentrates in factors that explain more of the cross section of returns and that it is not incidental to individual stock momentum: momentum-neutral factors display more momentum.

Brand Values and Long-Term Stock Returns

By |September 8th, 2022|

An equal-weighted portfolio of Best Brands (BBs) in the U.S. earns an excess return of 25 to 35 bps per month during the period 2000-2020. This result is remarkably robust across various factor models and therefore is not driven by exposure to common (risk) factors. The excess returns of the BB portfolio are not due to firm characteristics, industry composition, or small-cap stocks. We provide evidence suggesting that expensing investments in brands (instead of capitalizing them) and the tendency to underestimate the effect of brand name on generating future earnings are two mechanisms contributing to the excess returns.

ESG Ratings how do they Compare Across Data Providers?

By |September 7th, 2022|

Investments aligned with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles are rapidly growing globally. In the exchange traded fund (ETF) industry, this gives rise to the power of ESG rating firms that have the influence to direct capital flows into ETFs tracking the indexes. This article examines the issues of substantial ESG rating divergence across rating firms, the impact on investors’ choices, and the influence on the ETF industry. The divergence appears to be the greatest in social and governance components, and is often qualitative in nature. The author found that certain economic sectors are more prone to ESG rating divergence than others. She presents a case study about two ESG ETFs that are viewed quite differently under various rating lenses, and offers suggestions to investors, advisors, and analysts on how to research ESG ETFs, given the major rating divergence. The article concludes with ways the ETF industry could improve its practices collectively to better serve investors with clarity and to sustain the growth of ESG impact investments.

How You Sort Matters in Sorting Factor Portfolios

By |September 1st, 2022|

Non-standard errors capture uncertainty due to differences in research design choices. We establish substantial variation in the design choices made by researchers when constructing asset pricing factors. By purposely data mining over two thousand different versions of each factor, we find that Sharpe ratios exhibit substantial variation within a factor due to different construction choices, which results in sizable non-standard errors and allows for p-hacking. We provide simple suggestions that reduce the average non-standard error by 70%. Our study has important implications for model selection exercises.

Do Equity Markets Care About Income Inequality?

By |August 29th, 2022|

Do equity markets care about income inequality? We address this question by examining equity markets’ reaction and investors’ portfolio rebalancing in response to the first-time disclosure of the ratio of CEO to median worker pay by U.S. public companies in 2018. We find that firms’ disclosing higher pay ratios experience significantly lower abnormal announcement returns. Additional evidence suggests that equity markets “dislike” high pay dispersion rather than high CEO pay or low worker pay. Firms whose shareholders are more inequality-averse experience a more pronounced negative market response to high pay ratios compared to firms with less inequality-averse shareholders. Finally, we find that during 2018 more inequality-averse investors rebalance their portfolios away from high pay ratio stocks relative to other investors. Overall, our results suggest that equity markets are concerned about high within-firm pay dispersion, and investors’ attitude towards income inequality is a channel through which high pay ratios negatively affect firm value.

Can You Keep Your Track Record After an ETF Conversion?

By |August 26th, 2022|

Here is the bottom line: converting into the ETF structure can bring a lot of benefits to the table, but porting your official track record over to an ETF can be challenging.

However, even if the facts and circumstances of your situation suggest that porting your official track record into an ETF is impossible, all is not lost. Retail consumers, institutional investors, platform providers, gate-keepers, and so forth, will likely be aware of your previous performance and reputation as an asset manager/advisor and they can often read between the lines. For example, if an advisor has been running the "ACME US Dividend Strategy" for 20 years, and this same advisor launches the "ACME US Dividend ETF" with the same investment process and investment objective, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon (or a brain scientist) to figure out that the ETF is probably a more tax-efficient version of the old strategy.

Financial Markets Responding to Climate Risks

By |August 25th, 2022|

This paper provides new evidence showing that carbon transition risk is becoming increasingly material and is priced both in equity and debt markets. We find that there is a widespread price-earnings discount linked to corporate carbon emissions. This discount varies, however, by sector and trends differently in Europe than in the US. We also find that a small discount emerges for corporate bonds, although it is statistically significant only for small caps. Finally, we find evidence that the pricing discount also emerges, albeit to a smaller extent, for other greenhouse gas emissions.

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