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Investing Research Articles

Two Habits of Highly Effective Investors?

What are the essential habits of highly effective (wealthy) investors? In his March 2006 paper entitled “Why do Wealthy Investors have a Higher Return on their Stocks?”, Yosef Bonaparte analyzes data from the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances to find out why the wealthiest investors achieve superior stock returns. To frame the analysis, he defines two types of investment opportunity search: (1) informal (use of magazines, newspapers, online services and friends or relatives); and, (2) professional (use of experts such as accountants, financial planners and brokers). Using results from recent surveys, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Halloween and January Effects the Same?

The Halloween effect suggests that investors should be in stocks during November through April and in cash during May through October. Is there a connection between the January effect and the Halloween effect, or are they distinct market anomalies? In their March 2006 paper entitled “Halloween or January? Yet Another Puzzle”, Brian Lucey and Shelly Zhao examine seasonal returns to determine whether the Halloween effect is just an imprecise reflection of the January effect. Using monthly return data for U.S. stocks allocated to capitalization-based size deciles over the period 1926-2002, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Reading Between the Numbers

When a company reports earnings or makes presentations to analysts, should investors tune out the verbiage and focus only on the hard financial data? Or, do company executives give soft clues to future firm performance? In their January 2006 working paper entitled “Beyond the Numbers: An Analysis of Optimistic and Pessimistic Language in Earnings Press Releases”, Angela Davis, Jeremy Piger and Lisa Sedor examine the “body language” of the narratives of earnings press releases and test the response of the stock market to this qualitative information. Using textual-analysis software to measure systematically the levels of optimism and pessimism in a sample of 24,000 earnings press releases published on PR Newswire between 1998 and 2003, they find that: Keep Reading

The Entropic Markets Hypothesis

Can the laws of physics and information theory help explain human psychology, specifically as exhibited by investors? In the December 2005 update of his paper entitled “The Physical Foundation of Human Mind and a New Theory of Investment”, Jing Chen: (1) builds upon the similarities between the mathematics of information theory and of physical entropy to explain certain human thinking patterns; and, (2) uses this synthesis to unify understanding of the behavior of financial markets. He posits that human thinking patterns are adaptations evolved (mostly in hunter/gatherer mode) to acquire efficiently the resources needed for survival, as constrained by physical laws. In a mostly theoretical discussion, he offers the following insights: Keep Reading

Aggregate Analyst Sentiment in the Long Run

Does the distribution of analyst buy-hold-sell ratings predict the overall stock market? Is the distribution of ratings for a given firm indicative of the value of those ratings to investors? In the September 2005 version of their paper entitled “Buys, Holds, and Sells: The Distribution of Investment Banks’ Stock Ratings and the Implications for the Profitability of Analysts’ Recommendations”, Brad Barber, Reuven Lehavy, Maureen McNichols and Brett Trueman analyze the distribution of stock ratings at investment banks and brokerage firms and examine whether these distributions can be used to predict the profitability of analysts’ recommendations. Using 438,000 recommendations issued on more than 12,000 firms by 463 investment banks and brokerage firms from January 1996 through June 2003, they conclude that: Keep Reading

The Illusionary Markets Hypothesis?

Can influential traders actively profit from the psychological biases, the not fully rational decisions, of others? In the January 2005 update of their paper entitled “Illusionary Finance and Trading Behavior”, Malika Hamadi, Erick Rengifo and Diego Salzman introduce the concept of illusionary finance, based on the psychology of decision-making under time pressure and ambiguity, and analyze the creation and dissemination of illusions stock markets. They propose that: Keep Reading

The Hedge Fund Public Relations Game Plan?

Is this how a savvy hedge fund manager plays the game? First, get cozy with other fund managers, financial market research firms and the financial media. Then “orchestrate” the attention paid to a company in which the manager’s fund has taken a position? Here’s a picture, with some links to relevant allegations and news/commentary… Keep Reading

Just Protecting Their Investing/Trading Reputations?

People worry about their professional reputations. Does this worry on the part of institutional fund managers translate into any systematic investing/trading practices, and thereby create asset mispricings? In the November 2005 update of their paper entitled “Asset Price Dynamics When Traders Care About Reputation”, Amil Dasgupta and Andrea Prat describe a model for incorporating concern about reputation into institutional (mutual) fund manager behavior and compare predictions of that model to results of other research. They conclude that: Keep Reading

An Overview of Investor Animal Spirits

What formal studies does academia have to offer on the role of emotions in equity investing/trading? In their October 2004 paper entitled “The Role of Feelings in Investor Decision-Making”, Michael Dowling and Brian Lucey synthesize the results of two threads of recent areas of research on whether and how emotions affect investing: (1) mood misattribution (the impact of environmental factors, such as the weather, the body’s biorhythms and social factors); and (2) image (how investors feel about companies separately from any financial analysis). They note that: Keep Reading

Classic Research: Embrace Risk, But Take Profits

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 February 1999 paper entitled “Daily Momentum And Contrarian Behavior Of Index Fund Investors” (download count almost 1,900) by William Goetzmann and Massimo Massa. The authors investigate the existence and profitability of momentum and contrarian behaviors for stock index trading. They classify return momentum investors (trend followers) as those who buy (sell) when the market rises (drops) in the previous trading session, and return contrarian investors as “profit takers” who sell (buy) when the market rises (drops). They also examine investor response to changes in market volatility, defining both volatility momentum traders (risk chasers) and volatility contrarian traders (risk avoiders). Using daily activity records for 91,000 accounts trading an S&P 500 index during 1997 and 1998, the authors find that: Keep Reading

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