Stock Return Model Snooping

Posted in Big Ideas


How special is the Fama-French three-factor model (market, size, book-to-market ratio) compared to other possible three-factor models? In their November 2012 paper entitled “Firm Characteristics and Empirical Factor Models: a Data-Mining Experiment”, Leonid Kogan and Mary Tian systematically compare explanatory breadth for all 351 three-factor and 2,925 four-factor (linear) models for predicting stock returns that can be formed from 27 firm characteristics other than size and book-to-market ratio. They measure explanatory breadth of a model by how well it captures the average future return differences across value-weighted deciles from annual sorts on the characteristics not used in the model. Using monthly returns and annual/quarterly firm characteristics for a broad sample of non-financial U.S. stocks during 1971 through 2011, they find that: (more…)

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