Size Effect

Do the stocks of small firms consistently outperform those of larger companies? If so, why, and can investors/traders exploit this tendency? These blog entries relate to the size effect.

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Exploiting Factor Premiums via Smart Beta Indexes

Do smart beta indexes efficiently exploit factor premiums? In his April 2016 paper entitled “Factor Investing with Smart Beta Indices”, David Blitz investigates how well smart beta indexes, which deviate from the capitalization-weighted market per mechanical rules, capture corresponding factor portfolios. He consider five factors: value, momentum, low-volatility, profitability and investment. He measures their practically exploitable premiums via returns on long-only value-weighted or equal-weighted portfolios of the 30% of large-capitalization U.S. stocks with the most attractive factor values. He tests six smart beta indexes:

  1. Russell 1000 Value.
  2. MSCI Value Weighted.
  3. MSCI Momentum.
  4. S&P Low Volatility.
  5. MSCI Quality.
  6. MSCI High Dividend.

Using monthly data for the five factor portfolios and the six smart beta indexes as available through December 2015, he finds that: Keep Reading

Factor Investing Wisdom?

How should investors think about stock factor investing? In his April 2016 paper entitled “The Siren Song of Factor Timing”, Clifford Asness summarizes his current beliefs on exploiting stock factor premiums. He defines factors as ways to select individual stocks based on such firm/stock variables as market capitalization, value (in many flavors), momentum, carry (yield) and quality. He equates factor, smart beta and style investing. He describes factor timing as attempting to predict and exploit variations in factor premiums. Based on past research on U.S. stocks mostly for the past 50 years, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Liquidity an Essential Equity Factor?

Is it possible to test factor models of stock returns directly on individual stocks rather than on portfolios of stocks sorted per preconceived notions of factor importance. In their November 2015 paper entitled “Tests of Alternative Asset Pricing Models Using Individual Security Returns and a New Multivariate F-Test”, Shafiqur Rahman, Matthew Schneider and Gary Antonacci apply a statistical method that allows testing of equity factor models directly on individual stocks. Results are therefore free from the information loss and data snooping bias associated with sorting stocks based on some factor into portfolios. They test several recently proposed multi-factor models based on five or six of market, size, value (different definitions), momentum, liquidity (based on turnover), profitability and investment factors. They compare alternative models via 100,000 Monte Carlo simulations each in terms of ability to eliminate average alpha and appraisal ratio (absolute alpha divided by residual variance) across individual stocks. Using monthly returns and stock/firm characteristics for the 407 Russell 3000 Index stocks with no missing monthly returns during January 1990 through December 2014 (300 months), they find that: Keep Reading

Turn of the Year and Size in U.S. Equities

The turn of the year (December-January) for the U.S. stock market includes the Santa Claus rally and the January effect. How does the stock market behave around the turn of the year for a recent sample? To check, we construct cumulative return profiles from 20 trading days before through 20 trading days after the end of the calendar year for the Russell 2000 Index, the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) since the inception of the Russell 2000 Index. Using daily and monthly levels of all three indexes from December 1987 through January 2015 (28 December and 28 January observations), we find that: Keep Reading

Exploiting the Trend Lag of Small Stocks?

Do small capitalization stocks exploitably lag broad market trends? In their October 2015 paper entitled “Slow Trading and Stock Return Predictability”, Matthijs Lof and Matti Suominen investigate whether overall stock market trends predict variation in the size effect and therefore the performance of small capitalization exchange-traded funds (ETF). For size effect testing, they each year at the end of June rank stocks into tenths (deciles) by market capitalization and calculate the size effect as the difference in value-weighted average returns between the smallest and largest deciles. Using daily returns, trading volumes and institutional buying and selling data for a broad sample of U.S. common stocks during 1964 through 2014 and for a selection of small capitalization ETFs as available through 2014, they find that: Keep Reading

Stock Size and Momentum Strategy Profitability Worldwide

Are there exploitable size and momentum effects among international stocks? In their August 2015 paper entitled “Size and Momentum Profitability in International Stock Markets”, Peter Schmidt, Urs Von Arx, Andreas Schrimpf, Alexander Wagner and Andreas Ziegler examine the size effect and the interplay between size and momentum strategies via long-short stock portfolios in 23 countries. They measure stock size as market capitalization and consider several ways of measuring the difference in average returns and four-factor (market, size, book-to-market, momentum) alphas between value-weighted portfolios of small stocks and big stocks. They measure stock momentum as return from 12 months ago to one month ago, with a skip-month between ranking and value-weighted portfolio formation. They assess net portfolio performance in three ways: (1) imposing estimated trading frictions (0.3%-0.4% for small stocks and 0.15% for big stocks); (2) calculating the maximum trading frictions an investor could bear; and, (3) calculating U.S. dollar trading volume for each portfolio. Using stock data for the U.S. during 1985 through 2012 and for 22 other countries mostly during 1991 through 2012, they find that: Keep Reading

Small Leveraged Value Stock Ranking System

What qualifiers can enhance the performance of a small value stock strategy? In their August 2015 paper entitled “Leveraged Small Value Equities”, Brian Chingono and Daniel Rasmussen devise and test a strategy to refine a portfolio of small capitalization value stocks of firms that with relatively high financial leverage. Specifically, their target universe at the end of each year consists of all NYSE/AMEX/NASDAQ stocks with: (1) market capitalizations between the 25th and 75th percentiles; (2) among the 25% of cheapest stocks based on EBITDA divided by enterprise value; and, (3) above median long term debt divided by enterprise value. They then rank the stocks in this universe per a group of quality and technical factors that emphasize reduction in long-term debt and improving asset turnover (revenue growth rate greater than asset growth rate). At the end of the first quarter of each following year, they reform portfolios of the top 25 and top 50 stocks in the specified universe based on this ranking. Using stock return and accounting data for a broad sample of U.S. stocks during January 1963 through December 2014, they find that: Keep Reading

Country Stock Market Factor Strategies

Do factors that predict returns in U.S. stock data also work on global stock markets at the country level? In the May 2015 version of their paper entitled “Do Quantitative Country Selection Strategies Really Work?”, Adam Zaremba and Przemysław Konieczka test 16 country stock market selection strategies based on relative market value, size, momentum, quality and volatility. For each of 16 factors across these categories, they sort country stock markets into fifths (quintiles) and measure the factor premium as return on the highest minus lowest quintiles. They consider equal, capitalization and liquidity (average turnover) weighting schemes within quintiles. They look at complementary large and small market subsamples, and complementary open (easy to invest) and closed market subsamples. Using monthly total returns adjusted for local dividend tax rates in U.S. dollars for 78 existing and discontinued country stock indexes (primarily MSCI) during 1999 through 2014, they find that: Keep Reading

Interactions among Stock Size, Stock Price and the January Effect

Is there an exploitable interaction between a stock’s market capitalization and its price? In their February 2015 paper entitled “Nominal Prices Matter”, Vijay Singal and Jitendra Tayal examine the relationship between stock prices and returns after: (1) controlling for market capitalization (size); (2) isolating the month of January; and, (3) excluding very small stocks. They each year perform double-sorts based on end-of-November data first into ranked tenths (deciles) by size and then within each size decile into price deciles. They calculate returns for January and for the calendar year with and without January. Using monthly prices and end-of-November market capitalizations for the 3,000 largest U.S. common stocks during December 1962 through December 2013, quarterly institutional ownership data for each stock during December 1980 through December 2013, and actual number of shareholders for each stock during 2004 through 2012, they find that: Keep Reading

Measuring the Size Effect with Capitalization-based ETFs

Do popular capitalization-based exchange-traded funds (ETF) confirm the existence of a reliably exploitable size effect? To investigate, we compare the difference in equally weighted returns (small minus large) for the following matched pair of small-large ETFs:

  • iShares Russell 2000 Index (Smallcap) Index (IWM)
  • iShares Russell 1000 (Largecap) Index (IWB)

Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for these ETFs during May 2000 (the earliest month available for both) through January 2015 (177 months), we find that: Keep Reading

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