Combining Factors in Multifactor Portfolios

By |June 30th, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research|

Reschenhofer’s findings demonstrate the important role that portfolio construction rules (such as creating efficient buy and hold ranges or imposing screens that exclude stocks with negative momentum) play in determining not only the risk and expected return of a portfolio but how efficiently the strategy can be implemented (considering the impact of turnover and trading costs)—wide (narrow) thresholds reduce (increase) portfolio turnover and transactions costs, thereby increasing after-cost returns and Sharpe ratios. His findings also provide support for multiple characteristics-based scorings to form long-only factor portfolios, encouraging the combination of slow-moving characteristics (such as value, investment and/or profitability) conditional on fast moving characteristics (such as momentum), to reduce portfolio turnover and transactions cost. Fund families such as AQR, Avantis, Bridgeway and Dimensional use such an approach, integrating multiple characteristics into their portfolios conditional on momentum signals.

Calculating Supply Chain Climate Exposure

By |June 28th, 2022|ESG, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

To manage climate risks, investors need reliable climate exposure metrics. This need is particularly acute for climate risks along the supply chain, where such risks are recognized as important, but difficult to measure. We propose an intuitive metric that quantifies the exposure a company has to customers, or suppliers, who may in turn be exposed to climate risks. We show that such risks are not captured by traditional climate data. For example, a company may seem green on a standalone basis, but may still have meaningful, and potentially material, climate risk exposure if it has customers, or suppliers, whose activities could be impaired by transition or physical climate risks. Our metric is related to scope 3 emissions and may help capture economic activities such as emissions offshoring. However, while scope 3 focuses on products sold to customers and supplies sourced from suppliers, our metric captures the strength of economic linkages and the overall climate exposure of a firm’s customers and suppliers. Importantly, the data necessary to compute our measure is broadly accessible and is arguably of a higher quality than the currently available scope 3 data. As such, our metric’s intuitive definition and transparency may be particularly appealing for investors.

Can Machine Learning Identify Future Outperforming Active Equity Funds?

By |June 23rd, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Trend Following, Academic Research Insight, Machine Learning, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research|

We show, using machine learning, that fund characteristics can consistently differentiate high from low-performing mutual funds, as well as identify funds with net-of-fees abnormal returns. Fund momentum and fund flow are the most important predictors of future risk-adjusted fund performance, while characteristics of the stocks that funds hold are not predictive. Returns of predictive long-short portfolios are higher following a period of high sentiment or a good state of the macro-economy. Our estimation with neural networks enables us to uncover novel and substantial interaction effects between sentiment and both fund flow and fund momentum.

Using Institutional Investor’s Trading Data in Factors

By |June 22nd, 2022|Insider and Smart Money, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

The authors investigate how the interaction between entries and exits of informed institutional investors and market anomaly signals affects strategy performance. The long legs of anomalies earn more positive alphas following entries, whereas the short legs earn more negative alphas following exits. The enhanced anomaly-based strategies of buying stocks in the long legs of anomalies with entries and shorting stocks in the short legs with exits outperform the original anomalies, with an increase of 19–54 bps per month in the Fama–French five-factor alpha. The entries and exits of institutional investors capture informed trading and earnings surprises, thereby enhancing the anomalies.

Does Emerging Markets Investing Make Sense?

By |June 17th, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Key Research, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research, Active and Passive Investing, Macroeconomics Research|

The analysis above suggests that portfolios that include or exclude emerging allocations are roughly the same. For some readers, this may be a surprise, but for many readers, this may not be "news." That said, even if the data don't strictly justify an Emerging allocation, the first principle of "stay diversified" might be enough to make an allocation.

Of course, the assumptions always matter.

Arbitrage and the Trading Costs of ETFs

By |June 16th, 2022|Transaction Costs, Research Insights, Larry Swedroe, Academic Research Insight, ETF Investing|

This article examines ETF creations and redemptions around price deviations and finds that the expected arbitrage trades are relatively rare in a broad sample of equity index ETFs. In the absence of these trades, price deviations persist much longer. Creation and redemption activity appears to be constrained when exchange conditions would lead to a costlier arbitrage trade, and the size of the price deviations mainly impact the likelihood rather than the amount of trading. The authors also find some evidence that creations and redemptions are less likely to trade on price deviations when they would be required to trade the underlying stocks against broad market movements. Their results suggest that several factors may discourage the built-in ETF arbitrage mechanism and that investors may receive poorer trade execution in these conditions as a result.

Factors Investing in Cryptocurrency

By |June 13th, 2022|Crypto, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

We find that three factors—cryptocurrency market, size, and momentum—capture the cross-sectional expected cryptocurrency returns. We consider a comprehensive list of price- and market-related return predictors in the stock market and construct their cryptocurrency counterparts. Ten cryptocurrency characteristics form successful long-short strategies that generate sizable and statistically significant excess returns, and we show that all of these strategies are accounted for by the cryptocurrency three-factor model. Lastly, we examine potential underlying mechanisms of the cryptocurrency size and momentum effects.

The Unintended Consequences of Single Factor Strategies

By |June 10th, 2022|Quality Investing, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research|

Since the 1992 publication of “The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns” by Eugene Fama and Kenneth French factor-based strategies and products have become an integral part of the global asset management landscape. While “top-down” allocation to factor premiums (such as size, value, momentum, quality, and low volatility) has become mainstream, questions remain about how to efficiently gain exposure to these premiums. Today, many generic factor products, often labeled as “smart beta”, completely disregard the impact of other factors when constructing portfolios with high exposures to any single factor. However, recent research, such as 2019 study “The Characteristics of Factor Investing” by  David Blitz and Milan Vidojevic, has shown that single-factor portfolios, which invest in stocks with high scores on one particular factor, can be suboptimal because they ignore the possibility that these stocks may be unattractive from the perspective of other factors that have demonstrated that they also have higher expected returns.

Visualizing the Robustness of the US Equity ETF Market

By |June 8th, 2022|Research Insights, Active and Passive Investing|

Market commentators sometimes suggest that the equity ETF market is just a bunch of "index funds" that all do essentially the same thing: deliver undifferentiated stock market exposure.

How true is that statement? Fortunately, we can test the hypothesis that the ETF market is roughly a few thousand different ways to capture the same basic risk/returns. To do so, we leverage our Portfolio Architect tool to quantify the active share of all US equity ETFs against the S&P 500 index (the king of indexes).

Do Connections Pay Off in the Bitcoin Market?

By |June 6th, 2022|Crypto, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

This paper identifies the bitcoin investor network and studies the relationship between connections and returns. Using transaction data recorded in the bitcoin blockchain from 2015 to 2020, we reach three conclusions. First, connectedness is not strongly correlated with higher returns in the first four years. However, the correlation becomes strong and significant in 2019 and Second, returns also differ among those connected addresses. By dividing the connected addresses into ten decile groups based on their centrality, we find that the top 20% most connected addresses earn higher returns than their peers during most of our sample period. Third, eigenvector centrality is more related to higher returns than degree centrality for the top 20% most-connected addresses, implying that the quality of connections may matter more than quantity among those highly connected addresses.

Short-term Momentum

By |June 3rd, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Academic Research Insight, Momentum Investing Research|

We document a striking pattern in U.S. and international stock returns: double sorting on the previous month’s return and share turnover reveals significant short-term reversal among low-turnover stocks, whereas high-turnover stocks exhibit short-term momentum. Short-term momentum is as profitable and as persistent as conventional price momentum. It survives transaction costs and is strongest among the largest, most liquid, and most extensively covered stocks. Our results are difficult to reconcile with models imposing strict rationality but are suggestive of an explanation based on some traders underappreciating the information conveyed by prices.

Options Hedging & Leveraged ETFs in Market Swings

By |June 1st, 2022|Options, Research Insights, Guest Posts, Academic Research Insight, ETF Investing|

Earlier this year, GameStop stock rose like crazy in only a few hours with the effects of broker-dealer options hedging spurred by retail investor buying pressure. And from February to March 2020, options trading activity was also pointed to as a contributor to stock swings in the Covid-19 selloff. The market dropped 30% and then recovered quickly over the following weeks. It has been documented that the need for market makers to hedge their positions with options (given rapid changes in stock prices) can contribute to market and stock price swings. However, might there be other factors also at play in these types of stock and market fluctuations? 

Is There a Gender Gap in Kickstarter Campaigns?

By |May 31st, 2022|ESG, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

This study focuses on the launch phase of the leading reward-based crowdfunding market—Kickstarter. It documents the behavior of male and female entrepreneurs in raising early stage capital. We find that women share as entrepreneurs in the platform (34.7%) does not equal to their share in the overall population, and they are concentrated in stereotyped sectors, both as entrepreneurs and as backers. We also find that women do not set lower funding goals than men, they enjoy higher rates of success than men, even after controlling for project categories and funding goals, and that backers of both genders have a tendency to fund entrepreneurs of their own gender. Our survey of Kickstarter backers finds evidence of taste-based discrimination by male backers.

Strategies to Mitigate Tail Risk

By |May 26th, 2022|Quality Investing, Crisis Alpha, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Trend Following, Academic Research Insight, Momentum Investing Research|

Investors care about more than just returns. They also care about risk. Thus, prudent investors include consideration of strategies that can provide at least some protection against adverse events that lead to left tail risk (portfolios crashing). The cost of that protection (the impact on expected returns) must play an important role in deciding whether to include them. For example, buying at-the-money puts, a strategy that eliminates downside risk, should have returns no better than the risk-free rate of return, making that a highly expensive strategy.

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