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Investing Research Articles

Risky Stocks + Short Sellers = Low Returns

Do short sellers avoid highly volatile stocks, and thereby leave them overvalued? If so, when short sellers do attack volatile stocks, is the level of overvaluation therefore compelling? In the August 2006 update of their paper entitled “Costly Arbitrage and Idiosyncratic Risk: Evidence from Short Sellers”, Ying Duan, Gang Hu and David McLean test the hypothesis that short sellers tend to avoid stocks with high idiosyncratic risk because of the high cost of hedging such risk. Using data for stock prices, short interest levels and other factors spanning 1988-2003, they find that: Keep Reading

Momentum Strategies Sputtering?

How are momentum stock trading strategies doing these days? In their January 2006 paper entitled “The Vanishing Abnormal Returns of Momentum Strategies and ‘Front-running’ Momentum Strategies”, Thomas Henker, Martin Martens and Robert Huynh examine the returns of various momentum trading strategies in general and during specific market conditions (rising or falling) over the period 1993-2004. They construct a series of self-financing portfolios (equal-weighted) for various holding periods by buying past winners and selling past losers based on various past performance (ranking) periods. Some strategies include a one-month gap between the ranking and holding periods. They repeat portfolio construction monthly over the sample period for each strategy, resulting in overlapping portfolios. Finally, they test “front-running” strategies that set momentum rankings five days before the ends of months rather than at month-ends. Using daily data to calculate monthly returns for a broad sample of stocks (with all distributions reinvested), they find that: Keep Reading

A Republican Risk Premium?

Is the media more likely to accentuate the negative when Republicans hold the Presidency? In their October 2004 paper entitled “Is Newspaper Coverage of Economic Events Politically Biased?”, John Lott Jr. and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute test for political bias in the economic (durable goods, GDP, retail sales and unemployment) news coverage of American newspapers, after controlling for economic content. Using headlines from a database of newspaper and wire service articles from 389 newspapers covering January 1991 through May 2004 (and back to 1985 for the top ten newspapers: USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and Houston Chronicle), they find that: Keep Reading

Financial News Sentiment Predicts Stock Returns?

Does exceptionally negative news coverage predict hard times for a company and its stock price? In their August 2006 paper entitled “More Than Words: Quantifying Language to Measure Firms’ Fundamentals”, Paul Tetlock, Maytal Saar-Tsechansky and Sofus Mackassy test whether they can predict a company’s future performance and stock returns by quantifying the sentiment in its financial news coverage. Their sentiment measure is a standardized level of negativity based on word counts and the Harvard psychosocial dictionary. Using Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Dow Jones News Service (DJNS) stories about individual S&P 500 firms during 1980-2004 (350,000 significant articles), along with contemporaneous financial and stock price data, they find that: Keep Reading

Jim Cramer’s Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Market?

Can traders exploit irrational reactions to Jim Cramer’s stock recommendations by viewers of CNBC’s Mad Money? In their March 2006 paper entitled “Is the Market Mad? Evidence from Mad Money, Joseph Engelberg, Caroline Sasseville and Jared Williams measure the market’s reaction to Mr. Cramer’s buy recommendations. Using a sample of 246 initial recommendations made by Jim Cramer on Mad Money episodes between July 28, 2005 and October 14, 2005, as recorded by YourMoneyWatch.com, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Classic Paper: Company Valuation Methods

We have selected for retrospective review a few all-time “best selling” research papers of the past few years from the General Financial Markets category of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Here we summarize the March 2004 update of the paper entitled “Company Valuation Methods: The Most Common Errors in Valuations” (download count over 6,000) by Pablo Fernandez. In this paper, the author describes the four most widely used company valuation methods: (1) balance sheet-based; (2) income statement-based; (3) goodwill-based; and, (4) cash flow discounting-based. He also illustrates a break-up value calculation and summarizes the valuation errors he has most commonly encountered. He states that: Keep Reading

Better to Have a Fund Manager with an Ownership Stake?

As of 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires most mutual funds “to disclose…each portfolio manager’s ownership of securities in the fund” using dollar ranges. Should investors favor funds in which the fund managers hold direct stakes? In other words, do funds with management ownership outperform? In their August 2006 paper entitled “Portfolio Manager Ownership and Fund Performance”, Ajay Khorana, Henri Servaes and Lei Wedge exploit the new data to test the relationship between fund manager ownership and fund performance. Using monthly return data for a sample of 1,406 mutual funds having ownership data available as of the end of December 2004, they find that: Keep Reading

Left or Right, and Up or Down

Should investors lean toward governments at one end of the country political spectrum to find outperforming equity markets? In their October 2003 paper entitled “The Presidential Puzzle: Political Cycles and the Stock Market”, Pedro Santa-Clara and Rossen Valkanov examine monthly U.S. stock market performance versus executive branch party across 18 Presidential elections (1927-1998, 864 months) encompassing 10 Democratic and 8 Republican Presidencies. In their July 2006 paper entitled “Political Orientation of Government and Stock Market Returns”, Jedrzej Bialkowski, Katrin Gottschalk and Tomasz Wisniewski investigate whether the political orientation of 173 different governments systematically affects the performance of 24 international (mostly European) stock markets. Findings are: Keep Reading

Mutual Fund Advertising: Does Harrison Ford Offer a Better Return?

Do the billions of dollars of annual mutual fund advertising work to attract investors? If so, are the appeals rational or emotional? Does the advertising connect investors with the right funds? In his July 2006 paper entitled “Advertising and Portfolio Choice”, Henrik Cronqvist examines how mutual fund industry advertising affects investor choices and returns. Focusing on the effects of 50,000 multimedia advertisements by 454 funds on 4.4 million workers during the year 2000 launch of a new pension system in Sweden, he finds that: Keep Reading

Ben Zacks: The Zacks Way

We evaluate here the market commentary of Ben Zacks over the period June 2002 through January 2005. Ben Zacks is a co-founder of Zacks Investment Research and Senior Strategist and Portfolio Manager at Zacks Wealth Management Group. Since January 2005, Zacks.com has discontinued making his regular commentary publicly available (and removed his past commentary). The table below quotes forecast highlights from the cited source and shows the performance of the S&P 500 Index over various numbers of trading days after the publication date for each item. Grading takes into account more detailed market behavior when appropriate. Red plus (minus) signs to the right of specific forecasts indicate those graded right (wrong) based on subsequent market behavior, while red zeros denote any complex forecasts graded both right and wrong. We conclude that: Keep Reading

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