Insider and Smart Money

How Pervasive is Corporate Fraud?

In this article, we examine the research on the pervasiveness of corporate fraud (misconduct or alleged fraud), which is one of the (less emphasized) costs of public ownership.

Gender Pay Gap Transparency

In this article, we examine what the research says about gender pay gap transparency. We look at the research questions and academic insights with an eye toward why it matters.

Mining Credit Card Data for Stock Returns

Using a unique dataset of individual transactions-level data for a universe of U.S. consumer facing stocks, we examine the information content of consumer credit and debit card spending in explaining future stock returns. Our analysis shows that consumer spending data positively predict various measures of a company’s future earnings surprises up to three quarters in the future. This predictive power remains strong in both large- and small-cap universes of consumer discretionary firms in our sample and is robust to the type of transactions data considered (credit card, debit card, or both), although the relationship is stronger in the small-cap universe where informational asymmetries are more pronounced. Based on this empirical observation we build a simple long-short strategy that takes long/short positions in the top/bottom tercile of stocks ranked on our real-time sales signal. The strategy generates statistically and economically significant returns of 16% per annum net of transaction costs and after controlling for the common sources of systematic factor returns. A simple optimization exercise to form (tangency) mean-variance efficient portfolios of factors leads to an optimal factor allocation that assigns almost 50% weight to our long-short portfolio. Our results suggest that consumer transaction level data can serve as a more accurate and persistent signal of a firm’s growth potential and future returns.

Using Institutional Investor’s Trading Data in Factors

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.

Form 3 and Form 4 Alpha: Focus on What Insiders Don’t Trade

Some individuals, e.g., those holding multiple directorships, are insiders at multiple firms. When they execute an insider trade at one firm, they may reveal information about the value of all—both the traded insider position and not-traded insider position(s)—the securities held in their “insider portfolio.” We find that insider “not-sold” stocks outperform “not-bought” stocks. Implementable trading strategies that buy not-sold stocks following the disclosure of a sale earn alphas up to 4.8% per year after trading costs. The results suggest that even insider sales that are motivated by liquidity and diversification needs can provide value-relevant information about insider holdings.

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