Low-Volatility or Low-Beta Research
Before proceeding, it’s important to note that beta and volatility are related, though not the same. Beta depends on volatility and correlation to the market, whereas volatility is related to idiosyncratic risk (see here for an explanation of how to calculate the different measures). The superior performance of low-volatility and low-beta stocks was first documented in the literature in the 1970s — by Fischer Black (in 1972) among others — even before the size and value premiums were “discovered.” And the low-volatility anomaly has been shown to exist in equity markets around the world. Interestingly, this finding is true not only for stocks, but for bonds as well. In other words, it has been pervasive.